By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY, ALA — The Alabama State House of Representatives on Tuesday gave final approval to a controversial and blatant discriminatory bill that claims to protect faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents, or other households, because of their religious beliefs.

The blatant discrimination in this legislation would prohibit the state from refusing to license faith-based adoption agencies that prohibit placements of children in their care based solely on their religious beliefs.

The backers of this Bill claim…”The measure is needed to make sure adoption groups can operate without being forced to violate their religious beliefs”. While on the other side of this argument, critics, including Alabama’s sole openly gay lawmaker, called it blatant discrimination.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted 87-0 to go along with a Senate change to the bill. Now the legislation is sitting on Gov. Kay Ivey (pictured right) desk for her signature. At post time, Gov. Ivey had not yet decided whether or not she will sign the bill.

It’s just making sure the faith-based child placing agencies aren’t discriminated against due to their beliefs. It’s not discriminating against anyone else,” said Rep. Rich Wingo (pictured left), the Republican sponsor of the bill.

According to Rep. Wingo, the bill’s protections would apply only to private agencies that do not accept state or federal funds. Wingo said the bill would protect faith-based groups such as Agape and Baptist Children’s Homes, which do adoption and foster care placements.

Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker, State Rep. Patricia Todd (D) (pictured right), said “Placements should be made on the best interest of the child and not on “some artificial demographic. We have too many kids in foster care who need adoption, many of them with special needs. Same-sex parents want to adopt and take care of those children.” said Rep. Todd

Todd further claimed that the reason she voted for the bill was because there will be a Senate change amendment that would say the protections wouldn’t apply to agencies that accepted state funds.

So far, four other states have passed discriminatory legislation based on so called religious freedom. Those states are; South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia.

Deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, David Dinielli, who represents the Montgomery Montgomery-based civil rights group, called the legislation “prejudice cloaked in religion.” said Dinielli. “This law limits the number of homes available to Alabama’s most vulnerable kids by allowing foster and adoption agencies to turn away parents who don’t fit with the agencies’ religious beliefs, including parents who are unmarried, divorced, Muslim, LGBT or even Christian,” said Dinielli.

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