Tennessee will soon join nine other states that have passed laws allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, after the state Senate approved the measure on Tuesday, Jan. 14. 

The bill (HB 836), sponsored by Sen. Paul Rose (R-Covington), declares that no licensed adoption agency would be required to participate in a child placement if doing so would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” The bill also prevents people from suing adoption agencies for discrimination if the agency argues that its religious beliefs require it to discriminate.

HB 836, which was approved by the Tennessee House last year, is the first bill that the state Senate considered in 2020 and it passed, 20 to 6. All five of the Democrats in the state Senate voted against the legislation, along with Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville). While several other Republicans argued against the bill, they ended up voting “present.”

The bill, which never made its way to the Senate floor in 2019, will now head to Gov. Bill Lee for his signature. Lee’s office told the Tennesseean on Tuesday afternoon that he will sign it into law.

Tennessee does not currently forbid adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBTQ parents, but the law could threaten local anti-discrimination ordinances in several cities like Memphis and Nashville.

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