Georgia legislators are debating a bill that critics say would discriminate against potential LGBTQ parents and make it harder for children in foster care to find safe, stable and loving homes.
Senate Bill 375, introduced by Georgia Sen. William T. Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick), would allow taxpayer-funded adoption or foster-care providers to cite religion to discriminate against children in their care and people who want to provide them with homes.
Under the bill, providers could cite religion to refuse to serve children who are gay, transgender or hold religious beliefs that conflict with the providers’. Providers could also refuse to place children with same-sex couples, people who have been divorced and others.
The measure has provoked a strong backlash.
“Legislation that sanctions discrimination and limits options for children in need of a permanent home takes us further away from our goal of attracting investments that improve the lives of Georgia families,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, chief policy officer at Metro Atlanta Chamber, a group that promotes pro-business policies.
Ben Wexler, a “showrunner” (an executive producer of television shows), called for the entertainment industry to boycott Georgia if the bill passes.
“To my fellow showrunners: if this dumb bill becomes law, let’s be done filming television shows in Georgia,” tweeted Wexler.
Americans United also made its opposition clear.
“Religious freedom guarantees all of us the freedom to believe or not as we see fit, but it does not give state-funded agencies the right to use religion as an excuse to harm children and families,” Maggie Garrett, AU’s legislative director, wrote in a March 1 “Wall of Separation” blog post.
In late February, the Georgia Senate passed the bill, but as this issue of Church & State went to press, the Georgia House had not yet voted on it.