Written by Don Byrd

The final days of the Georgia Legislative session ended without producing a measure intended to modernize the state’s adoption laws. The bill stalled after the State Senate amended the bill (HB 159) to include a broad exemption from nondiscrimination regulations for any child placement agency that refused to provide services due to a religious objection, even if the agency receives government funds.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vowed to veto the legislation if it included the religious exemption language, and urged the legislature to send him a “clean adoption bill” in the next session.

Meanwhile the Alabama Governor signed into law a similar bill that allows religious refusals, but, as I noted in an earlier post, only for agencies that do not receive government funding.

The Texas legislature will soon vote on a bill of their own that permits adoption agencies to refuse service on religious grounds, without being subject to nondiscrimination laws. Supporters of the law, HB 3859, say it’s necessary to protect an organization’s religious freedom. Opponents argue the measure would allow taxpayer funded discrimination of all kinds. 

CNN reports:

“It’s about as limiting a bill as we have seen,” Terri Burke, executive director for ACLU Texas, told CNN.

“You say you have a sincerely held religious belief and you are a private adoption agency or private entity that helps place foster children — you can say you will not place that child with gay parents …. If I’m Catholic I can say I don’t want any Baptists to raise the child,” Burke said.

A similar law was enacted earlier this year in South Dakota. In 2015, Michigan enacted an adoption services refusal law.