The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning passed 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. There were no public comments allowed, and the bill passed along party lines and will now head to the Senate floor for a vote.

Senate Bill 375, called the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act,” was introduced earlier this month 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. A Senate Judiciary sub-committee met on Feb. 8 to take up the bill, moving to send it on to the full committee.

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.

However, Melissa Carter, executive director for the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University, told the AJC in a Feb. 19 story that no religious adoption agency has been refused a contract with Georgia’s foster care system based on its beliefs.

Sens. Parent and Harold V. Jones (D-Augusta) were the only “no” votes against the bill.

“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,” Parent said as the bill was about to come to a vote. “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.”

The Senate Judiciary 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 Georgia Equality — sent an e-blast out to followers the day before the meeting urging them to contact their senators.

“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,” the e-blast read. “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.”’

The Senate Rules Committee will meet later Tuesday to decide which bills will come up for a full vote in the Senate, which is in session again on Wednesday.

UPDATE: Georgia Equality sent a press release including reaction from First Data, the global payment technology solutions company with 24,000 employees worldwide and headquartered in Atlanta.

“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,” said Cindy Armine-Klein, First Data’s Chief Control Officer, in the statement. “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.”

“There are no winners with SB 375,” said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s executive director. “This bill does not help the thousands of young people in our state’s adoption and foster care system. It does not help loving parents who are looking to open their homes to children in need, either through fostering or adoption. It does not help our state’s economic image – particularly at this crucial juncture in our bid to bring up to 50,000 new and high-paying jobs to our state through Amazon. 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.

“Georgia is being tugged in two very different directions at the moment, and lawmakers in the Senate should pause before advancing this bill. We have an opportunity to continue strengthening our state’s brand by enacting welcoming and inclusive policies that protect everyone from discrimination, or we can codify discriminatory practices that hurt Georgia’s kids, hobble our communities, and stagnate our economy.”

40 Responses

  1. Cassie

    So a bunch of Christians decide that any member of LGBT community don’t have the right to become parents???
    Thats inhuman and against everything the constitution stands for. Shame on you people.

    Reply
    • Rich

      I think nature spoke to that first, but then yeah, what you said. I know I will get all the hate in the world by stating what I am going to state. (So much for tolerance.) I am a single-guy who adopted two sons and I can tell you for a fact… Children NEED both a mother AND a father. Children should never be used as pawns for our own gratification… I.e., “I WANT to be a parent.” When you adopt a child, you should NEVER expect to be loved back, you can only hope for that! If you pursue this in any way being about “you”, you have already done a disservice to the child. Do I think I child being raised by a gay couple is better than being in the system? ABSOLUTELY! Do I think a child being raised by a single-dad, single-mom or anything apart from a mother AND father is THE BEST? Nope. Not by a long shot! Children are never about meeting our needs. We need to be about meeting their needs alone. I understand this is a complex issue (though many would say it should not be). Again, as a single (never married) dad with LOTS of support, I can tell you it is not the BEST situation in the world. You can “dis-engender” all you want, but as much as I love my sons and try to give them all the nurture I can, I can never play the role of a mother. You are free to disagree with me but please don’t get UGLY about it. If you have hateful rhetoric in your heart (on either end of the spectrum), you should definitely NOT adopt! However, if you truly want what is best for a child and your ego is not involved in any form or fashion, it is better than the child being abandoned to a “system”.

      Reply
      • Ericha

        As a person who never grew up with a dad, we can agree to disagree. As long as your parent at least tries to fill both parental roles and keeps you active in the community (ex: around other adult men and women like church, boy/Girl Scouts, etc), then the child should have a non-gender biased childhood. You just have to know how to handle parenthood and teach your children properly about the world around them. I see where you’re coming from but… I see it as, if a gay/lesbian couple is going to raise that child, they’re going to raise it as if it was their own child. It may be a bit selfish in the sense they they want a family.. but that’s like telling a woman who can’t give birth that it’s selfish to want to go out and adopt to start her own family. Truth- It may be a bit selfish I someways, but like I said- at the end of the day she’s going to love that baby because she was ready for parenthood.

    • Rich

      So tell me, since many of the arguments here are misconstruing what is being said, “Should Churches or religious institutions (Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, etc.) be FORCED by the State to be all accommodating of everything LGBT?” If you say, “Yes,” then you cannot argue for “Separation of Church and State” because the State would have to enforce accommodation and therefore cannot have separation of Church and State. If you say, “No,” then you have to understand the INTENT of this legislation which is simply saying that religious institutions will not be forced to accommodate LGBT adoptions. That simple. There are plenty of “non-religious” institutions that still help LGBT adoptions, so, no, this is not an article law saying LGBT cannot adopt. Please get the information correct rather than another rhetorical rant.

      Reply
      • SJ

        Re-read the article. It says “religious adoption agencies in Georgia already have the ability to refuse to place children with same-sex couples”. So bullshit that it’s a law for maintaining religious freedom. It’s discrimination pure and simple.

    • tawanda

      Yet people who believe their imaginary friend tells them to be hateful and abusive to others are great parents.

      Reply
  2. Pam Jordan

    Refusing any loving home to a child in need and a child that a couple want to adopt is a sign and a shame. Hate wrapped in religion is the worst kind of hate and discrimination.

    Reply
  3. Nicholas Davenport

    GA Voice??? I got a southwest GA voice for ya, let people marry who they wanna marry and adopt who the want to adopt. Stop dictating others’ based of a religious standpoint in the old testament when clearly GOD forgave all men and women of sin in the new testament. I, myself, am a southern bapitst. You cannot pick and choose which part of religion you think is right based off you own world views. God has already forgiven all sin the world as far as the new testament states, so stop be living you know better than GOD. Btw, this is aimed at all in the GSC. Not the individual Editor or Writer.

    Reply
  4. Tina Kalvelage

    You old backwards fools need to get out of office because the children in Atlanta have been raised with open minds and this is an assault on them now, many of whom were raised by LGBT. They woke up and aren’t standing down any more to your out dated thinking. What on earth were you thinking????

    Reply
  5. Tina

    You’ve really screwed up wirh the movie industry with this one. Ever think of those business repercussions? Didn’t think so.

    Reply
  6. JPitre

    So, can you give us a list of the fostering and adoption agencies in GA that are NOT religiously-based?

    Reply
  7. Ricahrd

    Why dont you tell us what you really think Senator….That you dont think these people are actual human beings . Why don’t we just vote to kill them all just like you want.

    Reply
  8. Mike

    Riddle me this, if 2 men or 2 women raise a baby…and that baby is straight…who protects that baby/child/kid when the parents decide to discipline their adopted child for not being gay/lesbian?
    I am 100% sure that this happens in the same way that LGQT believe that straight parents ridicule/discipline their child if they display gay/lesbian tendencies.

    Reply
    • Sam G

      I have witnessed LGBT children who were thrown out of their homes by their straight parents as soon as they reached 18 and could legally do so. I have also witnessed those same children being cursed at, yelled at, and even beaten just because of their sexuality. Never have I even heard the opposite.

      Reply
  9. YB

    What happened to separation of Church and state!? This law is unconstitutional! Its title is unconstitutional!

    Reply
    • Rich

      I believe that is the point of this legislation… It is not “against gay adoption…” it is to make sure that “Religious organizations” who have an objection to gay adoptions are not FORCED by the government (or society) to pursue gay adoptions. There are LOTS of organizations that are perfectly fine with gay adoptions. Try for example, CHRISKids in Georgia. This is a misrepresentation of what is going on. If you want separation of Church (“sacred”) and State (“secular”), quit telling “The Church” what it should or shouldn’t do! You can’t have it both ways!

      Reply
      • SJ

        Oh man, did you not read the article? Religious adoption agencies in Georgia already have the ability to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, so this would-be law isn’t protecting any religious freedoms it’s just allowing discrimination in general.

  10. C Johnson

    They are going to lose the whole movie industry too, not just Amazon. They have no idea how far-reaching something this backwards and discriminatory is.

    Reply
  11. Andy

    What on Earth? Why would a gay parent discipline their child for their sexual preference? That’s the opposite of what would happen.

    Reply
  12. Raymond Reines

    So much for separation of church and State..! Gaw-ja once again showing the rest of the World how backwards they are…

    Reply
  13. JD

    Ya, religious people are so unbelievably selfish… the whole point of adoption is to help the children. How is taking away kind and perfectly fine people’s right to adopt helping any children!?

    You want to take away women’s right to abortion, especially for women who can’t afford or not ready to have children, then the kids go into the adoption and foster system. If you are so hell-bent on abortion, why don’t you go ahead and adopt the babies yourselves, so they don’t end up growing up in a poor environment?

    Now religious people won’t even let perfectly fine people adopt. What a bunch of selfish senate committee members, if there is a God, I am sure he/she is shaking their head at these stupid decisions they are making over other people’s lives.

    You people take away other people’s rights, create social problems, and now take away part of the solution. Way to go~ Just wait when your judgment day comes, pretty sure you are gonna regret it by misunderstanding the original intent of your religious teachings.

    PS: I know there are many open-minded and kind religious people out there, this comment is aiming to those who are not and impose their beliefs on others.

    Reply
    • Kathy

      How about we address the real problem here…..if people that aren’t ready or don’t want to have children then stop having sex!!!!!! You are the reason do many kids are in the system! Kb

      Reply
  14. Amanda

    As a Christian woman and mother I will tell you that if I had an adoption organization I would never deny anyone who could and would love the children. Yes I guess it is equal rights for all adoption agencies but I think it would be very wrong to not allow the child to have love. People are people. I am a mom who once smoked and that was wrong of me to do that around my children. Should I have not been allowed to have them

    Reply
  15. Buddy

    Let’s call it what it is. GREED. Self-proclaimed Christians don’t care about children in foster care. They make money from SSI, donations, SNAP, and life insurance when the foster children die a ‘natural’ death. Finding children permanent adoptive homes pays nothing. Interesting it originated in Brunswick.
    The notion that LGBTQ are pedophiles is sooo out of date. I wish someone with time and math skills would crunch the numbers to find out how many children were abused, molested, and killed by allegedly ‘straight’ perpetrators including biological parents.
    Georgia can say goodbye to Amazon and probably the movie industry. Better start planting field peas for the future.

    Reply
  16. Georgia Senate passes anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

    […] Senate Bill 375, called the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act,” was introduced earlier this month 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. A Senate Judiciary sub-committee met on Feb. 8 to take up the bill, moving to send it on to the full committee, which passed the bill on Feb. 20. […]

    Reply

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