Senate Committee amends bill to allow ban on gay adoptions

[private]The Senate Judiciary Committee added language to an adoption bill Thursday that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to legally refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

The anti-gay language was added to HB 159, a bill revising Georgia’s adoption code, and the Republican members of the committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to the substitute version of the bill.

The amendment would affect private adoption agencies that work under contract with the Department of Human Services.

As is typical with many legislative bills, the language is murky but the intent is clear:

“A child-placing agency may decide not to accept a referral for foster care or adoption services under a contract with the department [of human services] based on the child-placing agency’s mission as evidenced by its written policy, statement, or other document.

“If a child-placing agency declines to accept a referral, the department shall immediately refer those services to another child-placing agency.”

The anti-gay amendment to the adoption bill came from Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), the author of HB 159, opposed the addition.

The amendment’s critics warned that the discriminatory provision could potentially cost the state federal funding.

“It’s inappropriate for your tax dollars to discriminate against you,” Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) said.

The late-breaking attempt to amend the adoption bill revives the “religious freedom” issue in the General Assembly after it appeared the issue had been set aside for this year.

House Speaker David Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal both said they did not want to deal with the issue this session. The sole religious freedom bill introduced by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) did not receive a committee hearing.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: adoption agencies , anti-gay discrimination , same-sex couples