This week, Alabama made it legal for faith-based adoption agencies to deny services to LGBT families on religious grounds.
Under legislation signed by Gov. Kay Ivey Wednesday, state officials are no longer permitted to withhold licenses from religious adoption groups who refuse to place children in “immoral” households.
“I ultimately signed House Bill 24 because it ensures hundreds of children can continue to find forever homes through religiously-affiliated adoption agencies,” Ivey said. “This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home.”
The deceptively named “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act” passed quickly through the legislature this past March. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo and seeks to protect the rights of state-funded and licensed adoption agencies to reject LGBT adoptive or foster parents on the grounds of religious freedom.
Alabama has become just the latest state to complicate adoption for LGBT families, with South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia having passed similar laws earlier this year. The protections in Alabama would apply only to private agencies that don’t accept state or federal funds.
HB 24 drew heavy criticism from advocacy groups in the state as well as from Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker, Patricia Todd, who said the bill was “a direct attack against my community.”
“We are deeply disappointed that the legislature and the governor took on this unnecessary, discriminatory bill instead of focusing on how to improve the lives of all Alabamians, no matter who they are or whom they love,” said Eva Kendrick, state director of the Human Rights Campaign Alabama.
Kendrick went on to say that the law wouldn’t just affect gay couples, but also mixed-faith couples, single parents, divorced people and others whose family structure conflicts with the predominantly Christian adoption agencies throughout the state.
This is the first piece of legislation that Ivey has signed into law after taking over the position of governor from Robert Bentley, who was impeached when his now ex-wife exposed his extramarital affairs.
David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the group was disappointed that Ivey’s first major act was “to target LGBT kids and stigmatize LGBT families.”
Rep. Wingo has refuted claims that the law unfairly targets queer people, saying that it’s all about not allowing children to be placed in “homes that go against their faith.”
“Same-sex couples would make it all about them,” he added. “It’s not.”