HRC called out the Alabama Senate Health Committee for advancing the anti-LGBTQ bill H.B. 24, and renewed its call for the full Senate to reject this proposal when it comes up for a floor vote. The bill was voted out of committee by a vote of 7-1.
The bill, deceptively titled the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” would enshrine discrimination into Alabama law by allowing state-licensed adoption and foster care agencies to reject qualified prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The measure has already passed the Alabama House.
“H.B. 24 stigmatizes LGBTQ people while harming the children in Alabama’s child welfare system,” said Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama state director. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem, and the consequences it may bring — such as political and economic fallout similar to what we’ve witnessed in North Carolina after it passed anti-LGBTQ legislation — are potentially disastrous for the state. Alabama has a chance at a fresh start after more than a year of political scandals; it should not create a new, unnecessary scandal by targeting LGBTQ people. HRC calls on the full Senate to reject this proposal.”
H.B. 24 would allow state-licensed child-placing agencies to disregard the best interest of children, and turn away qualified Alabamians seeking to care for a child in need — including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection. The measure would even allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their own extended families — a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child. A qualified, loving LGBTQ grandparent, for example, could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.
Research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, as many have been rejected by their families of origin because of their LGBTQ status, and are especially vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment while in foster care. H.B. 24 would only exacerbate the challenges faced by LGBTQ young people.
In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBTQ Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; or legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.