The South Dakota Legislature has sent Gov. Dennis Daugaard a measure allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny services and child placement to LGBT families out of religious objections.
On Thursday, the Republican-controlled South Dakota House approved the measure, Senate Bill 149, by a vote of 43-20-7. The South Dakota Senate, which also has a Republican majority, passed the bill last month by a vote of 22-12.
The bill would prohibit the state from taking adverse action against child placement agencies that discriminate against LGBT families, including the elimination of tax-exemptions, the imposition of fines, the cancelation of contracts or discrimination against the agency in a state benefit program.
Many child placement agencies are faith-based organizations, such as Catholic adoption agencies, but the bill makes no distinction between agencies that are religious or otherwise affiliated.
Aside from LGBT people, others who could be subjected to discrimination under the law include people of faiths different from adoption agencies, single people, divorced families and Native Americans practicing traditional beliefs.
In the past, Daugaard has resisted his legislature’s attempts to enshrine anti-LGBT measures into law. Last year, he vetoed a bill seen to discriminate against transgender students in his state by prohibiting them from using a public restroom consistent with their gender identity.
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, called on Daugaard to veto the legislation, citing his previous action against anti-LGBT discrimination.
“In the past, Gov. Daugaard has opposed discriminatory legislation, including an anti-transgender bill that lawmakers pushed through the legislature last year, which he later vetoed,” McTighe said. “We hope he will show the same courage for South Dakota’s LGBT community and those children in desperate need of loving and safe homes.”
Under the South Dakota Constitution, the governor has five days to either the sign the bill or veto the measure. Otherwise, it would become law on its own accord.
Kelsey Pritchard, a Daugaard spokesperson, said in response to a Washington Blade inquiry the governor “has not yet decided what action he will take on that bill.”
If Daugaard were to allow the bill to become law, it would be the first anti-LGBT measure to become law in 2017 amid a flurry of anti-LGBT bills in various state legislatures.