Guest blog post by Brandon Studler
March 18, 2017
Imagine denying children a home, a family, for no reason other than who the potential parent chooses to love and with whom they choose to form a family. Well, it’s happening! Georgia has become one of the most recent states to introduce anti-LGBT legislation directed at those potential adoptive parents. Drafted to update current statues around adoption, HB 159 would allow maternity leave for parents adopting children, as well as allowing non-residents to adopt in the state. But a last-minute amendment added by the state Senate Judiciary Committee will now allow adoption agencies (private as well) with public funding to be exempt under a religious freedom statues. According to the amendment it will now be acceptable for religious organizations to deny potential adoptive parents through the “agency’s mission”. This will eliminate qualified and loving LGBT people from providing a safe home for children on waiting lists in adoption agencies, cost the state and taxpayers money, and result in fewer children being adopted.
Not only does this discriminate against a large population of potential parents, the bill would also cost taxpayers as well as the state. According to Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) “the state would be subject to losing hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money” he said when discussing a report from the Division of Family and Child Services.
HB 159 originally introduced by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) with co-sponsor Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) was amended and quickly passed by Republicans on the Georgia Senate committee. From here the bill moves on to the Senate’s Rules Committee in a GOP controlled Senate, then back to the House before continuing to the governor’s office to be signed into law, if the bill passes. “It’s important to note that adoption agencies that contract with the state are also held to federal guidelines that dictate no discrimination based on race, national origin, age, gender and disability status,” according to Bobby Cagle, director of Division of Family and Children Services.
Bills such as HB 159 are not unique to Georgia. Earlier this year South Dakota signed the first anti-LGBT law of 2017 that allows child placement agencies to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious statues. And there are more bills in other states to come.
This is not merely a conversation around quality homes and parents but rather an attack on people’s identity and who they choose for family. The right to family is a fundamental human right – not an issue of religion. Stripping the right of all human beings to form family does not strengthen communities nor protect marginalized communities. By allowing religious organizations with state funding to refuse child placement, Georgia’s government is telling all LGBT people they are not human beings, that they are unfit to be parents solely on the basis of their identity. This is a direct attack on human rights and the LGBT community.
If you live in Georgia, now is the time to write to your local government officials urging that they vote against this bill. An attack on one is an attack on all.
- Information taken from articles below