On the heels of Bermuda’s same-sex-marriage repeal comes more legislation that seeks to limit the rights of LGBTQ citizens—and this time it’s in the U.S.
This week, Georgia lawmakers voted on Senate Bill 375, which allows legal protection for faith-based adoption agencies that don’t want to place children in families with dynamics and lifestyles that do not align with their religious beliefs. This includes (but may not be limited to) single parents, unmarried couples, and LGBTQ couples.
The bill was sponsored by Republican senator William Ligon, who argued, “Just because you are a faith-based organization doesn’t mean you have to check your faith at the door and cannot participate in government programs.”
Senator Nan Orrock and other opponents argue that this opens the door for legalized discrimination against LGBTQ couples. Orrock also said that refusing to allow a couple to bring a child into a happy, stable home just because of their sexual orientation is “just backward on its face.”
The statistics support that claim: Same-sex couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to be raising an adopted child, and over 16,000 same-sex couples are raising over 22,000 adopted children in the U.S., according to a study by the Williams Institute.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, says this is not about religious freedom but about prejudice and discrimination. “Senate Bill 375 is a dangerous step backward that would codify permission to discriminate against the LGBTQ community into Georgia state law,” she said in a statement. “This bill is not about freedom of religion, which is one of our nation’s fundamental values, but rather about imposing one’s personal religious beliefs on others to discriminate against loving foster or adoptive parents simply because of their identity and deny services to LGBTQ youth.”
The Senate bill passed 35–19. Next, it will move on to the House, where it is expected to have more opposition, particularly when it comes to how this might affect the state's business interests.
For example, in its search for a second headquarters, Amazon has listed Atlanta among 20 potential metro areas. The tech company—know for its relative progressiveness in an industry that is acutely aware of the need for diversity and inclusion efforts—has also publicly cited “cultural community fit” as a factor in the final decision.
This kind of legislation could deter Amazon, other companies, and the jobs they could bring to the state. Not to mention, it would protect organizations and individuals that seek to strip away the rights of would-be LGBTQ parents across Georgia.