From AU's Wall of Separation blog:
Last week, the Georgia Senate passed SB 375, a harmful bill that would allow government-funded adoption and foster care agencies to use religion to discriminate against kids in their care and prospective parents. Since then, opposition to the bill has only grown. Today at 1:00pm, Georgians will gather on the state capitol steps to rally against the bill to urge the Georgia House to kill it.
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. As Senator Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) explained during debate on the bill, “This proposition that we should… protect agencies that are gonna deny loving families the opportunity to adopt a child from our foster care system is just backward on its face.”
SB 375 puts the religious beliefs of the adoption and foster care agency above the best interest of the child seeking a home. Senator Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) explained clearly that when it comes to the taxpayer-funded agencies, “at heart, this just is not about them. If they work in adoption, yes they play a role in the process, but it is not about them. It is about finding safe and loving permanent homes for kids.”
This bill, however, will make it harder for children to find safe and loving permanent homes because it reduces the number of families available to provide homes for children in care. In the end, it means children will remain stuck in foster care longer—perhaps not ever able to find a family.
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.
That is why opposition is growing even stronger.
The business community, including the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Coca-Cola, and Delta strongly opposes the bill. Katie Kirkpatrick, chief policy officer at Metro Atlanta Chamber, explained this opposition: “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.”
Over the weekend, Ben Wexler, a writer and producer on “The Grinder” and “Arrested Development,” tweeted that if the bill passes, he and his fellow filmmakers should “be done filming television shows in Georgia.” Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black also chimed in: “This ‘solution’ in search of problem (where none exists) could create real problems for the working people of #Georgia when businesses deem the state too intolerant to call it their home.”
Actor and comedian Billy Eichner summed it up best when he tweeted, “I simply can't believe there are still people in this country who would rather see a child thrown into foster care than be given to loving LGBT parents. It is incomprehensible.”
Today, Georgians can go to the state capitol and have their voices heard—join the 1:00pm. “Rally Against The ‘License to Discriminate’ RFRA Bill.” And if you can’t make it to Atlanta, you can send your legislator a message with your opposition. For more about SB 375, check out our Protect Thy Neighbor project.