The Georgia State Senate has passed SB-375, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on religious beliefs, Georgia Voice reports.
The bill, called the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act,” could deny qualified Georgia citizens seeking to adopt or foster a child, including LGBT couples or any other prospective parents to whom an agency has a religious objection. The bill would also prohibit the Georgia Department of Human Services from taking “adverse action” against such agencies.
SB-375 was introduced earlier this month by state Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). The bill passed Friday along party lines 35-19 and will now head to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.
Sen. Ligon and other supporters of the bill attempted to make the case that passage of the bill would actually lead to more adoption and foster care opportunities.
“This bill does not prevent anyone from adopting,” Ligon insisted, explaining that the concerned agencies “want to have the assurance that they’ll be able to exercise their fundamental right to practice their faith.”
“This proposition that we should encourage agencies and change our law and protect agencies that are going to deny loving families the opportunity to adopt is backwards on its face,” argued State Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta). “You want more families coming forward to adopt children and reduce the load of children stuck in the foster system? The way that you do that is not to bar LGBT couples from adopting.”
“Plain and simple, Georgia’s Republican lawmakers are discriminating against LGBTQ parents,” says Lucas Acosta, DNC LGBTQ Media Director, in a statement. “Rather than focusing on empowering families or uniting children with loving parents, Georgia Republicans want to strip qualified potential parents of their ability to provide for a child in need.”
Acosta notes that there are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide and almost 14,000 in Georgia alone, adding that “the Georgia legislature should be focusing on how it can attract more qualified and loving parents to the system—not rejecting potential homes based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of the parents.”
“SB 375 is discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem,” says Marty Rouse, HRC national field director, in a statement. “It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Georgia and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home. It’s unfortunate that leaders are focusing on this bill, instead of concrete ways to improve the child welfare system in Georgia.”
“Senate Bill 375 is a dangerous step backward that would codify permission to discriminate against the LGBTQ community into Georgia state law,” adds GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This bill is not about freedom of religion, which is one of our nation’s fundamental values, but rather about imposing one’s personal religious beliefs on others to discriminate against loving foster or adoptive parents simply because of their identity and deny services to LGBTQ youth.”
Georgia Equality has announced that is organizing a rally to protest the bill March 1 across from the state capitol building.