The Georgia Senate approved a bill Friday that allows adoption agencies to use their religion as a justification to deny gay couples.
The Senate’s 35-19 vote on the controversial “religious liberty” legislation sends the bill to the Georgia House, where its prospects are uncertain amid concerns that battles over gay rights could hurt the state’s chances of landing Amazon’s second headquarters
The legislation, Senate Bill 375, would ensure that taxpayer-funded adoption agencies can turn away married gay couples seeking to adopt children from foster care.
Lawmakers pushing the bill say it would encourage more religious adoption agencies to open in Georgia, but opponents of the measure contend it’s a discriminatory effort that would reduce options for foster children to be adopted.
“The goal is to open as many doors as possible for those children that are in need of homes, and this bill will do that,” said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, the sponsor of the bill.
Adoption agencies already have the ability to refuse to do business with gay couples, but the legislation would insulate agencies from future changes in state policy. Discrimination based on sexual orientation isn’t prohibited under state and federal laws.