Lawmakers in the Georgia Senate have advanced SB 375, an anti-LGBT “License to Discriminate” bill, by a 35 to 19 vote. The legislation would allow taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples and even refuse to work with children in need who identify as LGBT. The discriminatory bill stands to impact the approximately 14,000 children in the state’s foster and child welfare system.
“This is mean-spirited legislation that hurts Georgia’s families, does an incredible disservice to the thousands of children in the state foster care system, and really threatens our ability to attract vibrant businesses that strengthen our communities – like Amazon,” said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s Executive Director. “No one is trying to undermine freedom of religion in Georgia – that’s why religiously affiliated adoption agencies already enjoy the freedom to work exclusively with families that share their faith values. This legislation goes out of its way to make it harder for loving and committed same-sex couples to start a family – and unfortunately, it’s children in need of permanent homes who will pay the steepest price.”
Businesses across the state have spoken out increasingly against the legislation, warning that hostile bills like SB 375 will impact Georgia’s ability to attract new investments from corporations like Amazon. It’s estimated that upwards of 50,000 new and high-paying jobs will be created in the state where the tech giant ultimately puts down roots for its HQ2.
Both the Atlanta Metro Chamber and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce oppose the legislation, noting that “Legislation that sanctions discrimination takes us further away from our goal of attracting investment that would improve the lives of Georgia families.” Global commerce giant First Data also is warning against the legislation, saying SB 375 “violates our core belief that all Americans deserve to be treated equally and respectfully.”
There are currently approximately 14,000 youth in Georgia’s child welfare system. Religiously affiliated adoption agencies already can work with potential parents and families that align with specific religious beliefs – but SB 375 would allow taxpayer-funded agencies to deny service to same-sex couples, as well.