William Ligon

Anti-LGBTQ adoption bill advances to full Senate Judiciary Committee

A Georgia Senate Judiciary sub-committee on Thursday afternoon heard public comments on a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. The bill would also prohibit the Georgia Department of Human Services from taking “adverse action” against such agencies. The sub-committee took no vote and the bill will now move on to the full Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 375 was introduced last week by state Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), who added similar language to an adoption overhaul at the end of last year’s legislative session, causing the bill to stall. That language was stripped from House Bill 159 early in this year’s session, passed both chambers and is ready for the governor’s signature.

Thursday’s sub-committee members included Sen Greg Kirk (R-Americus), author of the hybrid anti-LGBTQ religious exemptions bill that roiled the state and caused a national backlash two years ago before being vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal, and Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), the Secretary of State candidate who has been the face of such religious exemptions bills for the last four years at the Legislature.

Georgia Unites Against Discrimination — a project of statewide LGBTQ rights group Georiga Equality — sent an e-blast out to followers earlier this week urging them to contact their senators.

This bill allows adoption agencies, including taxpayer-funded ones, to refuse to work with same-sex couples and LGBT youth. That’s right: Public agencies could use religion as an excuse to discriminate against Georgians.

Why the Senate has decided to fast-track a License to Discriminate now — while we’re in the national spotlight as a finalist for Amazon’s HQ2 — is unconscionable. But they have, so they need to hear from you, now:

Rush a message to your Senator urging them to reject SB 375, a bill that threatens Georgia’s youth, families, and economy.

Remember two years ago, when a similar bill caused a statewide outcry from thousands of business, faith and community leaders — and nearly cost our state $2 billion in revenue? Well now, the stakes are even higher, and lawmakers are again putting our economy in danger.

Will Amazon, a company with a well-established record of LGBT inclusion, want to spend $5 billion and create 50,000 jobs in a state where the threat of discrimination looms over its employees?

Doubtful. Advancing a bill like SB 375 that discriminates against LGBT Georgians simply stacks the deck against us. That’s the message Senators need to hear as the Judiciary Committee considers SB 375.

No word yet on when the bill hits the full committee.