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Tennessee spikes bill allowing LGBTQ adoption refusals

Lawmakers essentially killed a proposal for the year that would have allowed faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families.
Image: Tennessee State Capitol
Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee.Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers on Tuesday spiked a proposal that would have allowed faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay parents and other families because of their religious beliefs.

The bill had been scheduled to be debated by the GOP-dominant Senate. However, at the last minute, the sponsor quietly asked for the proposal to be taken up next legislative session — essentially killing it for the year. There was no debate or explanation why the bill with withdrawn.

Supporters had argued the bill was needed to protect against potential lawsuits hostile to an adoption group's religious beliefs. However, opponents countered the measure would give adoption agencies free reign to discriminate against LGBTQ families, single parents and non-Christians.

Tuesday's developments came as national advocates have raised concerns about a series of Tennessee bills this session that they argue discriminate against LGBTQ individuals, including the adoption proposal and another to prevent government agencies from considering a business's nondiscrimination policies when selecting a contract.

Notably, Amazon joined a growing a list of major companies urging the Tennessee General Assembly to avoid bills that negatively impact LGBTQ individuals. Over the weekend, the Tennessee Titans announced they also opposed the slate of bills facing national scrutiny, warning that Nashville could risk hosting another NFL Draft — like the one held recently — if the measures were to become law.

Meanwhile, music superstar Taylor Swift donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project to fight the bills critics say discriminate against LGBTQ people. In a handwritten letter explaining the donation, Swift praised religious leaders who had opposed the anti-LGBTQ bills and were "standing up against the 'Slate of Hate' in our state legislature."

While the Senate pulled back the adoption bill, the chamber did advance a watered-down proposal to spell out that Tennessee's public indecency law applies to single-sex, multiperson bathrooms and changing rooms. While the bill had been significantly amended, critics argues there's still risk the bill could be misused to arrest transgender people.