Controversial Adoption Rules Blocked in Georgia

As the 2017 Legislative Session comes to an end, the LGBT Pride community celebrates Georgia lawmakers’ failure to pass adoption bill updates.

The changes to House Bill 159 would have protected adoption agencies who do not wish to work with LGBT couples.This includes private adoption agencies that are funded by the state.

Georgia Unites Against Discrimination has been encouraging supporters to contact senators with this message, “Keep discrimination out of GA adoption laws and fix this bill!”

“When you’re saying that it’s reasonable for queer couples to not be allowed to adopt, to not be allowed to start families, you’re saying that those groups of people don’t deserve the same happiness or the same rights or are unworthy. You know the little, I don’t know, white picket fence American dream that everyone is supposed to be worthy of,” says Laurel Hiatt, Lambda Alliance Administrative Director. Lambda Alliance is a student organization at the University of Georgia that strives to strengthen the LGBTQA community on campus and in the larger Athens community.

What Georgia Unites Against Discrimination considered anti-LGBT language is found in section four of the bill that states, “A child-placing agency may decide not to accept a referral for foster care or adoption services under a contract with the department based on the child-placing agency’s mission,” which could have opened the door to discrimination against LGBT couples who want to adopt.

However, Athens adoption agency Bethany Christian Services says that the passage of this bill would not have stopped LGBT couples from adopting children.

“What Bethany stands for is just getting children to homes that are willing to love and care for them. I don’t really think it matters what their sexual preferences are. As long as the children are safe, they’re not being influenced one way or another, I don’t think it would be an issue,” says Dominique Hyatt, Bethany Christian Services’ administrative assistant.

Governor Nathan Deal announced that he opposed the changes made to HB 159 from the beginning because they would result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of federal government aid to the Division of Family and Children Services.

Other changes that were proposed to the bill included:

* lowering the legal age to adopt from 25 to 21

* Allowing adoptions of children not born in the United States who do not have a valid visa.

HB 159 will remain in its original state. Any unresolved bills will resume progress in 2018.

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By: Maddie Ray

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