The rights of gay people to become adoptive parents are at risk across the country. In Georgia, proposed legislation has been amended to let private adoption agencies refuse to allow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents adopt children.
"Religious Liberty" Language Added to Bill
House Bill 159 started out as a bipartisan piece of legislation intended to modernize adoption laws in the state. However, when it got to the Senate, language was added that would allow any non-taxpayer-funded agencies to decline to place children in homes on religious grounds.
The state senator behind the change denies charges that it discriminates against prospective LGBT parents. He says that "the amendment is not discriminatory on its face" and that charges that it is are "grossly misconstrued."
Amendment Faces Pushback from Multiple Factions
Nonetheless, the legislation, with this new language included, is going nowhere for the foreseeable future. It wasn't even approved by the Senate committee where the changes were made.
Even Gov. Nathan Deal has said that he wants the newly-added "religious liberty" language reconsidered. The head of Georgia's Division of Family and Children's Services said that "hundreds of millions of dollars" in federal funds are in danger of being stripped from his agency if the law passes because it could violate federal laws against nondiscrimination. State business leaders have also spoken out against it.
What Is the Future of the Legislation?
The bill, with the added language that could prohibit LGBT adoptions, may still be considered in the next legislative session, even though people on both sides of the political aisle have issues with it. Supporters say that it helps protect adoption agencies from violating their religious beliefs.
In a changing political climate, both in Washington, D.C., and in state houses across the country, it's essential for LGBT Americans to know their legal rights and to take action where they see those rights being endangered. If you are considering adopting a child, an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in the laws of your state can provide guidance and work to help you protect those rights.
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