Alabama lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Tuesday night that would allow private adoption and child placement agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ parents for reasons of “religious freedom.”
Officially known as HB24, the bill:
“prohibit[s] the state from discriminating against or refusing to license a provider of child placing services licensed by the state on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child placing service or carry out an activity that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider.”
The bill has long been criticized by LGBTQ groups as blatantly homophobic. But sponsoring representative Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa) claimed the law is necessary to protect child placement agencies from persecution.
“Around the country there are other states that have required faith-based agencies to place children in homes, foster or adoption, to place children in homes that go against their religious beliefs,” Wingo told AL.com. “These faith-based agencies have been forced to close their doors because they refuse to place children in homes that go against their faith.”
The bill was diluted slightly to only cover agencies which don’t accept state funds. Still, as Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker, told AL.com, “It’s based in a stereotype. And it’s wrong.”
Rep. Todd had previously called the bill “bigotry in the first degree.”
The Associated Press noted that South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia have all passed similar laws.
The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Alabama Governor Gov. Kay Ivey. It is unclear whether Ivey plans to sign the bill into law.