Bill Allowing Alabama Adoption Agencies to Follow Faith-Based Principles Passed by House

(Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)A new bill in Alabama, once signed, will allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children in households with same-sex parents.

A bill that would allow faith-based adoption agencies in Alabama the freedom to refuse applications based on religious beliefs and convictions is on its way to being signed by Gov. Kay Ivey.

HB24, a bill allowing adoption and foster care agencies to follow faith-based principles when it comes to placing children under the care of aspiring parents, has been passed by state lawmakers and is making its way to Gov. Ivey's desk, AL.com reported. The bill was unanimously passed by the Alabama House of Representatives by a vote of 87-0.

Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), one of the sponsors of the "Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act", said that some adoption agencies around the country have been forced to place children in homes even if these homes go against their religious beliefs and convictions.

"These faith-based agencies have been forced to close their doors because they refuse to place children in homes that go against their faith," he said.

These cases, Wingo said, have not happened in Alabama, and with the new bill they can be prevented from ever happening. It would benefit faith-based adoption agencies, which comprise about 30 percent of all that are in the state.

According to the Alabama Public Radio, Gov. Ivey hasn't indicated whether she will sign the bill or not. However, when the bill is signed into law, it would mean faith-based adoption agencies will be free to exercise their right to deny not just LGBTQ applicants, but also single parents, interfaith couples, unmarried couples, or married couples where one parent has previously had a divorce.

One of the bill's critics, Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), however, views the bill as an attack against gay couples.

"This bill obviously came about because same-sex marriage was approved," Todd said. "It's based in a stereotype. And it's wrong. And we shouldn't discriminate and I will always fight that."

Todd, who is openly gay, said faith-based adoption or foster care agencies "should have to follow the same rules and regulations as every other agency."

Another critic, Eva Kendrick, Alabama state director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a press release that the new bill "stigmatizes LGBTQ people" and should be rejected.

Wingo, for his part, does not see the bill as an attack on the LGBTQ community. Rather, "It's about protecting and not discriminating against faith-based agencies that, due to their religious beliefs, could have their right to choose where to place a child taken away from them," he said.

"It's not discriminating against anybody else," he said.