The Alabama House Thursday afternoon passed a discriminatory bill allowing state-funded faith-based adoption and foster agencies to ban adoption by same-sex couples or LGBT people – a law that already exists in the Commonwealth.
HB24, sponsored by Republican former NFL linebacker turned lawmaker, Rich Wingo, is falsely titled the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act. The bill, which even applies to blood relatives, passed by a wide margin, 60-14. All Democrats voted against the legislation.
One Democrat, openly-gay State Representative Patricia Todd, told her fellow lawmakers the bill is “a direct attack against my community,” AL.com reports.
“What your vote says to me – if you vote for this bill – is that Patricia Todd is not qualified to be a fit parent,” she added, “based on the fact that I love a woman, and it’s not based on what is the best placement for the child,” she said.
Passed in 2012 and authored by conservative House member Del. Todd Gilbert, Virginia’s law allows adoption agencies to similarly refuse services to same-sex couples if it goes agianst their religious beliefs. It was signed into law by former governor Bob McDonnell and continues to allow some of the state’s largest, publicly funded adoption agencies to discriminate.
The Human Rights Campaign reports the AL bill affects “LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection. The measure would even allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their own extended families — a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child. A qualified, loving LGBTQ grandparent, for example, could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.”
Told that Alabama adoption agencies have never had a problem, Wingo told lawmakers, ”I’d like to think that we’re being proactive instead of being reactive.”
HRC’s Eva Kendrick in a statement called the bill “disappointing,” saying that “legislators in the House seem focused on creating new ways to discriminate against LGBTQ people instead of securing loving homes for these children. And it is deeply disturbing that on ‘pro-life day’ the House has embraced a measure limiting the number of qualified, prospective foster and adoptive families who could offer these children the homes they deserve.”
The Senate will now take up the bill.