April 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Alabama guv to sign anti-LGBT adoption ‘religious freedom’ bill
Alabama State Capitol, HIV, gay news, Washington Blade

The Alabama legislature has approved an anti-LGBT adoption bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is set to sign legislation that would enable taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBT families out of religious objections.

The legislation, known as House Bill 24, is titled the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” but instead of encouraging child placement would permit agencies to deny placement of children into LGBT households. The bill was approved by the Senate on Wednesday by a 23-9 vote and by the House in March by a 60-14 vote.

Eileen Jones, an Ivey spokesperson, told the Washington Blade her boss “plans to sign it pending a legal review.”

The stated purpose of the bill is to “prohibit the state from discriminating against child placing agencies” if declining to place a child with a family “conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider.” That would enable child placement agencies, which often are religious-affiliated groups, such as Catholic adoption agencies, to deny placement in LGBT families.

Under the bill, the state would be barred from refusing a license or license renewal to a child placement agency that has denied placement into families out of religious beliefs.

Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the bill, was quoted in AL.com in February as saying the measure is necessary to uphold “religious freedom.”

“This bill is not about prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from adopting or fostering a child,” Wingo is quoted as saying. “It’s about protecting and not discriminating against faith-based agencies that, due to their religious beliefs, could have their right to choose where to place a child taken away from them.”

Many child placement agencies are faith-based organizations, such as Catholic adoption agencies, but the new law makes no distinction between agencies that are religious or otherwise affiliated. However, the bill wouldn’t apply to agencies that receive federal funding.

Other states with laws allowing adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBT households are Michigan, South Dakota, North Dakota and Virginia. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the anti-LGBT adoption law in his state in March, marking the first time this year an anti-LGBT measure became law.

Eva Kendrick, the Human Rights Campaign’s Alabama state director, called on Ivey to reject the legislation, saying is HB24 “discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem.”

“It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Alabama and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home,” Kendrick added. “It’s unfortunate that leaders continue to push this bill, even as child welfare organizations, faith leaders and fair-minded Alabamians are standing up and calling this bill out for what it is: Discrimination. We now ask Gov. Kay Ivey to not sign into law this harmful bill.”

Ivey must sign or veto legislation within six days of transmittal (excluding Sunday), or the measure becomes law without her signature.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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