Sen. Greg Treat’s SB1140, designed to create legal protections for faith-based adoption agencies, won a huge victory on Thursday when it advanced out from the full House with an overwhelming 60-26 vote. House author Rep. Travis Dunlap (R-Bartlesville) presented and defended the bill against relentless attacks from opponents.
Unfortunately, the bill was passed with an amendment that severely weakens its effect. Through legislative sleight of hand, opponents moved quickly on a vote to table an amendment that would have fully restored the original language of the bill. The vote on that tabling motion was conducted while members were still returning to the chamber from lunch. It became clear that this highly unusual move had been coordinated among opponents of the bill.
The amendment, previously offered by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) in committee, stripped the bill of its language regarding state or federal funding. The practical result is that the protections afforded to faith-based agencies by the bill are moot if the agency receives state or federal funding for any purpose at all.
Catholic Charities, for instance, would not be protected from lawsuits regarding adoptions facilitated exclusively for a mother and father because state or federal funds have been used for other programs like disaster aid and support for the homeless.
The bill will now move to conference committee where selected members of both chambers will attempt to agree on a final version. If they sign-off on a final version, the bill will be sent back for approval from the full chambers.
Click here to view the full House vote tally.