Sunday, March 1, 2020

Not a single member of the Councl votes for religious liberty over gay rights.

by Rod Williams - At the Council meeting of January 21st  there was a late resolution entered and passed that urged Governor Lee to veto a bill passed by the State legislature that would protect the religious liberty of private child placement agencies.

A late resolution is one that is entered from the floor of the Council and has not been filled in a timely manner to be on the agenda. It requires suspension of the rules to be considered. The objection of any two members of the body can block suspension of the rules.

The bill the Council urged the governor to veto said that "no private licensed child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."  Fortunately, the governor signed the bill. 

The Council resolution urging Gov. Lee to veto this religious liberty bill argued that this was discrimination against LGBTQ prospective parents.

Not a single member of the Council voted for religious liberty. All who voted, voted for gay rights to trump religious liberty. Here is how members voted:

Yes (35): Mendes, Hurt, Allen, Suara, Toombs, Gamble, Parker, Withers, Benedict, VanReece, Hancock, Young, Larry Hagar, Evans, Bradford, Rhoten, Syracuse, Welsch, Sledge, Cash, O'Connell, Roberts, Taylor, Hausser, Thom Druffel, Murphy, Russ Pulley, Robert Nash, Porterfield, Sepulveda, Rutherford, Styles, Lee, Henderson and Rosenberg; No (0); Abstain (0).

Absent from that meeting were Council members Hall and Vercher. That means there were three members who did not vote for it.  They may have not been paying attention and accidentally failed to push a button, they may have been on a bathroom break or they may have just sat on their hands. If they opposed this resolution, they should have had to courage to have their vote recorded.

The three members who did not vote but were present for the meeting are Steve Glover, Robert Swope and Courtney Johnson. I am pleased these three did not vote for it, but wish they would have stopped its passage by objecting to the consideration of the resolution or would have voted "no." I have underlined above the names of those who voted for it who disappoint me. I did not expect better from the other council members.

Below is the text of the Council resolution:

Resolution RS2020-176

A Resolution requesting Governor Bill Lee to veto HB836/SB1304 pertaining to the discrimination of adoption agencies against LGBTQ prospective parents.

WHEREAS, on January 14, 2020, the Tennessee Senate approved SB1304 by a 20-6 vote to allow adoption agencies to refuse to work with families if they claim that working with those families would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies”; and

WHEREAS, as a result of the Senate’s action, Tennessee would join a list of nine other states that specifically allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents; and

WHEREAS, when public funds are involved, all people should have a reasonable expectation that they will be served and treated equally; and

WHEREAS, HB836/SB1304 may result in a boycott of Tennessee by businesses, sports leagues, and other event organizers, which would have a tremendous negative effect on the finances of Nashville and the State of Tennessee; and

WHEREAS, Nashville is a welcoming place, and same-sex parents can and should reach out to the many adoption agencies that are happy to help same-sex couples adopt and start a loving family; and

WHEREAS, signing HB836/SB1304 would send a message to residents and prospective businesses that Tennessee is not a welcoming place, which would be detrimental to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. The Metropolitan Council hereby goes on record as requesting Governor Bill Lee to veto HB836/SB1304 pertaining to the discrimination of adoption agencies against LGBTQ prospective parents.

Section 2. The Metropolitan Clerk is directed to send a copy of this Resolution to Governor Bill Lee.

Section 3. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s) Nancy VanReece, Zachary Young, Brett Withers, Russ Bradford, Emily Benedict, Bob Mendes, Burkley Allen

Below is the text of the Bill the Council asked to governor to veto:

HOUSE BILL 836

By Rudd

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1, relative to child placement.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 36, Chapter 1, Part 1,is amended by adding the following language as a new, appropriately designated section:

(a) To the extent allowed by federal law, no private licensed child-placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.

(b) The department of children's services shall not deny an application for an initial license or renewal of a license or revoke the license of a private child-placing agency because of the agency's objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, consenting to, referring, or participating in a placement that violates the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.

(c) A state or local government entity shall not deny to a private licensed child-placing agency any grant, contract, or participation in a government program because of the agency's objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, consenting to, referring, or participating in a placement that violates the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.

(d) Refusal of a private licensed child-placing agency to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the agency's written religious ormoral convictions or policies shall not form the basis of a civil action for either damages or injunctive relief.

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