Last month, the Alabama House of Representatives passed HB 24, the deceptively named “Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” by a 60-14 vote, then went on a two-week spring break. While legislators return to work in Montgomery this week, HRC Alabama has been focusing its efforts toward the senate leadership, who will now decide the fate of HB 24 and the futures of the more than 5,000 children in the Alabama foster and adoption system.
HB 24 -- and its Senate companion SB 145 -- are identical bills that would allow state-licensed and religiously-affiliated foster and adoptive placing agencies to freely discriminate when placing children with individuals and families with whom they have a religious dispute, including LGBTQ-headed households. The child placing bills are the most egregious anti-LGBTQ bills currently moving in the legislature. SB 1, the Alabama Privacy Act has remained dormant this session as an HRC-led business coalition, including the Business Council of Alabama, spoke out strongly against the possible economic harm passing any anti-trans piece of legislation would cause in Alabama, as seen in the fallout over North Carolina’s HB 2 and its fake “repeal.”
Like SB 1, HB 24 and SB 145 are bills clearly motivated by anti-LGBTQ animus. These bills are thinly-veiled efforts to discriminate against willing and loving LGBTQ prospective foster and adoptive parents, and will ultimately do the most harm to the more than 5,000 children in the state’s foster and adoption system whose best interest should always be legislators’ first priority.
As we move into the last half of the 2017 Alabama legislative session, it’s more critical than ever that our Senate leaders remember the lessons of North Carolina – equality is good for business. Any attack on LGBTQ people could open our state to the type of economic and political blowback that the state of North Carolina has dealt with for more than a year now. These needless bills sideline the real issues, and could turn Alabama into even more of a political sideshow, and we all know we have enough scandals already.
We’ll continue to fight these bills in Montgomery in coalition with statewide equality partners and to promote pro-equality legislation as much as possible prior to the legislature’s anticipated actions on the impeachment processes of Gov. Robert Bentley.