The US state of South Dakota has brought in new measures which will allow Christian adoption agencies to operate in line with their religious beliefs.
Last week, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a Bill which will prevent “adverse action” against such agencies.
The move has been welcomed by a number of pro-family organisations.
Senate Bill 149 states that: “No child-placement agency may be required to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the child-placement agency”.
It adds that religious beliefs must be outlined in a “written policy, statement of faith, or other document adhered to by a child-placement agency”.
South Dakota Family Policy Council say the Bill will ensure that Christian adoption agencies will not be forced “to abandon their sincerely-held religious beliefs or moral convictions in their placement decisions”.
Governor Daugaard said: “I’m worried that a child placement agency may make what is in the best interest of the child a correct decision but be subject to a lawsuit by someone who has a little bit of a leg up by virtue of being in a protective class”.
“And if we can forestall that with this legislation then I’m willing to do that,” he added.
Elsewhere in the US, adoption agencies in Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. were forced to close down for refusing to place children with same-sex couples.
The American policy group, Family Research Council, said they were pleased with the Bill which means children will not be used as “pawns” in a push to “legitimize same-sex parents”.
South Dakota follows in the footsteps of Michigan after the state brought in similar measures in 2015.
Governor Rick Snyder signed three Bills into law which prevent “adverse action” against a private agency which has a contract with the state.
Snyder’s office stated that faith-based agencies account for between 25 and 30 per cent of all foster care provision in the state.
A statement by Governor Snyder read: “The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that wouldn’t be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process”.