Passionate testimony heard over 'religious liberty' bill

Atlanta Pride. Photo by Atlanta Pride Committee.

(AP) — A Senate subcommittee heard gripping public statements on Thursday from both advocates and opponents of a "religious liberties" proposal aimed at adoption agencies.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. William Ligon Jr., would allow adoption agencies that receive taxpayer funding to refuse to place a child with LGBT couples based on the organization's "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Ligon, in introducing the bill, said the proposal was needed to "ensure that faith-based organizations are not kept out of the system of public service."

The core of the bill would give faith-based adoption agencies the ability to decline to place a child with people whose lifestyle they do not agree with, including single parents, unwed couples and LGBT couples.

Opponents of the bill, including a representative from the ACLU of Georgia, spoke passionately against the proposal, saying it would allow state-sanctioned discrimination by adoption agencies.

Christina Remlin, lead counsel for Children's Rights, an advocacy group for abused and neglected children, said the bill would also put LGBT youth at risk of being placed into conservative religious foster homes and families intolerant of their sexual identity.

Proponents of the bill, including several faith-based organizations, also spoke before the subcommittee and expressed their support. They said the measure would allow more adoption agencies to operate, thereby increasing the number of children that could be placed with families in the state.

The proposal's next hurtle will be a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, though it is unclear when that will occur.

The Gayly. February 10, 2018. 6:00 p.m. CST.