South Dakota joined three other states Friday that have enacted laws giving broad legal protections to faith-based organizations that refuse based on their religious beliefs to place children in certain households.
Before signing the bill, Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard said he was concerned 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. He hopes the legislation would forestall that.
Before Friday, Daugaard was mum on the measure that supporters say preemptively protects religious adoption and foster care agencies from things like state funding cuts, revoked licenses and denied contracts if South Dakota were to eventually ban discrimination based on sexual orientation as several other states have done.
Libby Skarin, policy director of ACLU South Dakota, said Daugaard’s decision shows South Dakotans that he cares about private agencies more than the needs of children. She said the group is exploring legal challenges to the new law and is encouraging kids and adults who feel negative impacts to step forward.