Georgia’s adoption laws are in the process of being updated for the first time in 27 years.
While many welcome the updates, some conservative lawmakers are holding the process back.
At the tail end of the 2017 legislative session, Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) added discriminatory language to the much-needed bill, causing it to stall. The amendment would have allowed adoption agencies to refuse potential parents based on the agency’s “mission.”
This would have opened the door for religious adoption agencies, and even some agencies that are publicly funded, to deny LGBT parents the right to adopt children.
Now, as the 2018 legislative session progresses, we’re seeing changes. Last week, the anti-LGBT language was stripped from the bill and passed the Georgia Senate, and it’s now headed back to the House.
While this is a step in the right direction, it’s difficult to understand how conservatives are organizing their priorities. When they muddy the bill with prejudice and stall progress, it’s children who pay the price.
“There’s 13,000 kids in the foster care system in Georgia who need the legislation that oversees foster and adoptive services to be updated,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
As State Rep. Renitta Shannon (D-Decatur), who came out as bisexual in October, pointed out, some of those children could have been adopted in 2017 had the bill passed, but were forced to wait “an entire year more.”
Of course, some conservative lawmakers won’t give up. Senate Judiciary Chairman Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) said that a separate bill with an anti-LGBT religious exemption is in the works.
It seems conservatives will push their agenda at the expense of children in foster care and adoption services.
Not only are their efforts hurting these children, they are also threatening Georgia in other critical areas.
The Human Rights Campaign ranks how well corporate policies and practices address LGBT employees using its Corporate Equality Index, and HRC gave Amazon a 100 percent rating.
In fact, in addition to the perfect score, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos received the HRC’s 2017 National Equality Award in 2017.
That means in its search for its second headquarters, Amazon will most likely scrutinize contenders to see if they uphold the company’s goals for equality.
A bill that targets LGBT parents and blocks them from adopting at the expense of thousands of children’s livelihoods is certainly an ugly stain on Georgia.
It’s obvious that anti-LGBT bills like the ones Ligon and Stone are pushing are hurting Georgia’s chances at economic expansion and harming thousands of children who deserve a loving, supportive home.