SAVANNAH, GA- The Georgia Senate passed a controversial bill that is sparking another debate on legalized discrimination. The bill would allow adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funding to refuse to work with same-sex couples.
Billy Wooten, the Director of the LGBT Center in Savannah, told News 3 that he is appalled by the “religious liberty” bill.
“It’s just another misguided, misplaced, feverish effort to do in the name of religion things that are really as far as from what Christ would have taught as you can get,” said Wooten.
Sponsored by Sen. William Ligon, a Brunswick Republican, the measure was passed Friday by a vote of 35 to 19 after about an hour of contentious debate. Senator Ligon said the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act,” would protect adoption agencies by allowing them to refuse LGBT families without legal ramifications.
“Most of them are following their faith that says marriage is between a man and a woman. You can’t tell someone we’re going to cause you to violate your conscious, but we want your work. That’s not right,” said Ligon.
But opponents of the measure say it would effectively allow state-sanctioned discrimination by adoption agencies. Members of the LGBT community worry that this means more kids will be kept in foster care instead of being placed in loving homes.
“I believe in the church, religion is important to me. This is not the religion that I know anything about,” said Wooten.
Ligon represents a group on the opposite end of the spectrum. He asked, “if the state is saying, ‘we’re going to force you to violate your faith,’ aren’t you discriminating against the sincerely ill religious beliefs of these groups that are placing these children?”
The core of the bill would give legal protection to faith-based adoption agencies that decline to place a child with people whose lifestyle they do not agree with, including single parents, unwed couples and LGBT couples.The bill now goes to the House and must be signed by Governor Nathan Deal.