Today, HRC blasted the Alabama House Health Committee for putting the discriminatory H.B. 24 bill on the fast track to a vote by the full House of Representatives.
The bill, deceptively titled the “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act,” would enshrine taxpayer-funded discrimination into Alabama law by allowing state-funded and licensed adoption and foster care agencies to reject prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs.
“Alabama’s child welfare system has over 5,000 children waiting to be placed with or adopted by a qualified, loving family, yet our state lawmakers appear more interested in focusing on discriminating against LGBTQ people than helping these young people to find permanent homes,” said Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama state manager. “Offering adoption and foster care services to the public is not a religious-based activity, and this effort to discriminate using taxpayer dollars is an embarrassing and dangerous distraction from the real problems facing Alabama. HRC Alabama opposes this noxious bill and any attempt to make life more difficult for Alabama's LGBTQ families and youth -- especially children in out-of-home care due to crisis, abuse and neglect.”
H.B. 24 would allow state-licensed and funded 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 these 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.