Tennessee's gubernatorial candidates answers to video question 9

Go to the 2018 Gubernatorial Videos main page to find our more about the letter we sent, the questions we asked, and the process we followed in making sure as many candidates as possible participated in this video voter guide.

The third week in February, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) sent letters to all the gubernatorial candidates, both the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates, asking them to participate in our video voter guide. Those candidates included (in alphabetical order): Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Karl Dean, Craig Fitzhugh, Beth Harwell, Bill Lee, and Kay White. Participants who followed our guidelines and answered all 9 questions include Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Bill Lee, and Kay White.

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In some states, religiously-based adoption agencies are being threatened with the loss of their state license to do adoptions if they will only place children in homes in which the marriage is between a male and female. What position would your administration take on that issue?


Diane Black’s answer transcribed from video

We had something similar to that here in our state a few years ago, actually when I was still in the state Legislature. Gov. Bredesen was the Governor at that time, and he had a commissioner of his children’s services that was not allowing children to go to the Baptist Children’s Homes to be able to have their foster care there.

It was just really curious to me, and I called her and I talked to her about that, Commissioner Miller, and she said it was because they were Christian. And I said, So? And she said, Well, it would be inappropriate if we would send a child that was of a, let’s say, Muslim faith or Jewish faith to the Baptist Children’s Home. And I said, Of course that would be ridiculous. That would be wrong on your part to put a child in the wrong home, in the wrong environment.

But this is just ludicrous to say that someone wouldn’t have a religious right, an organization have a religious right of conscience to be able to say when they place a child in a home, it would be according to what their beliefs were. And so, I would just be very upset. And after dealing with the commissioner and many conversations, she released that rule to say that the children couldn’t go to the Baptist Children’s Home.

Children are waiting for good, permanent families, for a forever family. To think that you would keep them from going into a religious home that would provide them a forever family that was solid and loving would just boggle my mind. And I would tell you, if that ever happens here in the state of Tennessee, I will definitely step in as the Governor and straighten that one out.


Randy Boyd’s answer transcribed from video

As Governor, I will work to protect the religious liberties of all Tennesseans on every issue. As relates to adoption, I believe we should make it easier, not harder, to adopt and have greater options. I would not support taking away adoption licensing for those following religious-based home placement practices.


Bill Lee’s answer transcribed from video

My faith in Christ is the most important thing in my life and that will never change. And because of that, I believe that we should rigorously defend religious liberty. It’s part of the reason that Maria and I have traveled this state on a faith in Tennessee tour, visiting faith-based nonprofits, because I know that the government is rarely the answer, but that in fact our faith-based community, our faith-based nonprofits, community organizations are much more efficient, much more effective at solving some of the deepest challenges that we have in this state like adoption. It’s outrageous to me that holding a traditional view of marriage would ever be a disqualifier for an agency to be able to place children in loving homes in Tennessee.


Kay White’s answer transcribed from video

David, as Governor, I would certainly take the position they should not lose their license because, number one, religious-based adoption agencies are supported by the people, usually by the religious foundation that they are affiliated with. So, I really feel like, having been a parent, I will say again, every home needs a mother and a father. And I feel that adoption needs to be less expensive.

We need to place the Tennessee children in homes that will be loving. They need to be checked on. We need to know that the money that is given to them even in foster care is used correctly. We’ve recently had some cases, as you know, where the people have taken several foster children just to get the money, and they have been locked in rooms and malnutrition. I mean it’s—malnourished. And it’s just not right that we don’t oversee what happens to our children in Tennessee.

But, no, I could not in any way ever want our religious organizations to have their license taken from them. Out of the goodness of their heart, and most people that work in those are so passionate like I am about Tennessee. They’re passionate about doing what’s right for children. Why in the world would we as a state ever consider taking their license from them?