LGBTQ people face challenges that straight people often don't even have to think about when trying to start a family — mainly that queer couples can't just have sex and make a baby. But queer people in Alabama may soon face additional challenges.
The Alabama state legislature voted Tuesday to pass a bill that allows adoption agencies and other child placement services to refuse prospective LGBTQ parents on the basis of the organizations' religious beliefs, BuzzFeed reports.
While the bill, House Bill 24, never explicitly mentions LGBTQ people, it allows for child placement services — think adoption agencies and foster care — to refuse "to provide a child placing service or carry out an activity that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider."
That means that any adoption agency that has strong religious beliefs that gay people or trans people shouldn't be raising children has the right to turn prospective LGBTQ parents away.
We can't claim that allowing discrimination was the purpose or intent of HB24, which was written by Alabama representative Rich Wingo.
In fact, the bill expressly says that it "is not intended to limit or deny the eligibility of any individual to adopt a child or participate in foster care," and Wingo told AL.com that this bill was meant instead to protect the children who religious centers place for adoption or foster care.
Religious adoption and foster care agencies in other states have chosen to stop providing child placement services rather than allow LGBTQ people to adopt, Wingo told AL.com.
The bill claims that protecting these religious agencies won't harm prospective parents' chances at adopting or fostering. Only 30% of Alabama's adoption and foster care services are religion-based, but, Wingo told AL.com, forcing them to allow same-gender couples to adopt would impact the children they serve.
"If 30% (of Alabama's foster and adoption agencies) were to close their doors, that would create a burden on the state that impacts the children," Wingo told AL.com.
Despite the good intentions behind HB24, though, making this bill a law still legally sanctions discrimination. It sends the message that it's okay to think that queer and trans people are unfit to be parents — as long as that's what your religion says.
"We value the place that faith has in many people's lives, but using one's faith to discriminate against another person is wrong, and should not be made the law of the land,"Alex Smith, the board chair of the LGBT advocacy group Equality Alabama, told BuzzFeed.
HB24 isn't officially a law, yet, though it very likely will be. The House voted 87 to 6 on Tuesday to pass the bill, which means it will be sent on to Alabama governor Kay Ivey, who can either sign the bill into law, amend it, or allow it to become a law by taking no action.
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