State lawmakers approved an adoption bill to overhaul the state’s system.
But now they will consider another bill, Senate Bill 375, that would let adoption agencies that receive state funding deny services based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Last year, Georgia’s adoption bill failed in the Senate due to a provision that let adoption agencies that got state money refuse service based on their mission statements.
This year, state senators narrowed that provision and put it in its own bill. It allows for denial of service based only on “sincerely held religious beliefs” that don’t conflict with any civil rights laws.
Jeff Graham, with the advocacy group Georgia Equality, said the new bill still opens the door for unfair treatment.
“It’s not just members of the LGBT community that could be discriminated against,” Graham said. “You could have members of a minority faith being discriminated against. Or a single mother, just because she’s unwed.”
Republican State Sen. William Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, said people who run adoption agencies shouldn’t have to compromise their religious beliefs just to do business.
“Some will believe in same-sex marriage, others don’t, whether it’s by faith or other reasons,” Ligon said. “As a pluralistic society, we need to figure out ways to accommodate that and not pressure one group to accept another group’s version of marriage.”
The adoption bill introduced in last year’s legislative session failed on the last day because it included religious freedom language similar to what is in Ligon’s bill.
That prompted Georgia Gov, Nathan Deal to ask for a “clean” bill free from religious language.