The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
Senate Bill 375 (“Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act”) would also prohibit the Georgia Department of Human Services from taking “adverse action” against such agencies.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by state Republican Senator William Ligon. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee met on February 8th to take up the bill, moving to send it on to the full committee.
Because to be clear: SB 375 "Keep the Faith in Foster and Adoption" bill was proposed by William Ligon, Republican from BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA. AIN'T SHIT IN BRUNSWICK EXCEPT CAUSEWAYS TO THE GOLDEN ISLES. BUT YOU WANNA INTRODUCE SHIT THAT IMPACTS THE WHOLE STATE.
— D. Danyelle Thomas (@UnfitChristian) February 19, 2018
No public comments allowed, the bill passed along party lines and it will now head to the Senate floor for a vote.
Georgia Voice reports:
During Tuesday morning’s hearing, Ligon argued that passage of the bill would allow for more opportunities for adoption instead of less. State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) questioned that claim, and pointed out that religious adoption agencies in Georgia already have the ability to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
“It seems like [the bill is] dealing with problems that do not exist, although it might make people feel better,” Parent said.
“It’s not a matter of feeling,” Ligon responded.
“There are LGBT kids who are in the system, and they’re more likely to be in the system than kids who don’t identify as lesbian or gay, so I think there’s a real question about whether they could be harmed. The legislation puts the religious beliefs of those who serve kids above the kids themselves, and that’s why I have a particular problem with this.”
Parent and fellow Democrat Harold V. Jones were the only “no” votes against the bill.
In an email sent the day before the vote, Georgia Unites Against Discrimination (GUAD) wrote:
“We can’t let lawmakers forget what’s at stake. First and foremost, the well-being of the nearly 14,000 children in our adoption and foster care system. Child welfare advocates have been clear that allowing adoption agencies to discriminate won’t help place more children with loving families — in fact, it would let LGBT youth languish even longer in the system. And SB 375 could deal a serious blow to our chances of landing Amazon’s new headquarters. That’s why this morning, the Atlanta Metro Chamber and the Georgia Chamber spoke out strongly in the AJC against this bill. Rush a message to your senator now letting them know Georgia simply cannot afford this license to discriminate, SB 375.”
In a statement, Cindy Armine-Klein, Chief Control Officer with Atlanta-based global payment technology solutions firm First Data, said:
“First Data is based in Atlanta and we are proud to call Georgia home. However, we are strongly opposed to SB 375, the proposed legislation in Georgia that we believe perpetuates discrimination against the LGBT community. First Data is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace that promotes fairness and diversity, and the proposed legislation violates our core belief that all Americans deserve to be treated equally and respectfully.”
Georgia Equality’s executive director Jeff Graham added “there are only losers with this bill: children denied permanent and loving homes, and potential parents coldly turned away simply because of who they are.”