While the legislation does not specifically mention homosexuality, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that he was concerned that “private child-placement agencies acting in the best interest of a child could be subject to a lawsuit when denying placement to someone in a ‘protected class,’ such as members of the LGBT community.”
“The state may not discriminate or take any adverse action against a child-placement agency or an organization seeking to become a child-placement agency on the basis, wholly or partly, that the child-placement agency has declined or will decline to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the child-placement agency,” S.B. 149 reads in part.Daugaard, who formerly served as the director of the Children’s Home Society, told reporters he wanted to ensure that placement agencies aren’t punished or forced to close because they run their organization in accordance with the tenets of their faith.
“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,” he said. “And if we can forestall that with this legislation then I’m willing to do that.”Homosexual advocacy groups, such as the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign, condemned the law, opining that it legalizes discrimination.