Will Alabama Be the Next Indiana?

Governor Bentley and the state legislature have a choice to make as anti-LGBT legislation looms

WASHINGTON— Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and HRC Alabama kept up pressure on the Alabama legislature to halt the progress of Indiana-style “religious freedom” bills (H.B. 56)(H.B. 296/S.B. 261) that would allow discrimination in the arenas of marriage recognition and adoption.

With H.B. 56 set to receive Kristen its first hearing in a Senate committee at noon today (Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, State House Room 304), fair-minded Alabamians are calling on their elected officials to refuse to send the state down the wrong-headed path that cost Indiana tens of millions of dollars in economic activity and put hundreds of millions more at risk. Condemned by more than 100 major corporations and job-creators—as well as a broad majority of the American people—legislation like H.B. 56 has nothing to do with personal religious practice and everything to do with discrimination.

Enacting this kind of discrimination has political consequences. Signing similar legislation was followed by a 20 point drop in Governor Mike Pence’s approval rating, and a new poll shows that 85 percent of Hoosiers oppose the spirit of the legislation, while only 12 percent support it.

“Instead of following Indiana backwards and empowering discrimination against minority groups, Alabama should be moving forward toward consideration of non-discrimination legislation that protects all Alabamians,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Passing a non-discrimination law doesn’t just treat everyone fairly, it can be a key signal to major corporations and job-creators that this state is open for business and investment.”

As drafted, H.B. 56 would allow probate judges and public officials to refuse to solemnize marriages that they find religiously objectionable—empowering probate judges to turn away interfaith couples, interracial couples, same-sex couples and unions where one partner is a divorcee. The bill would also allow a religiously-affiliated hospital or other institution to refuse to recognize marriages it disagrees with. This would empower a religious hospital to refuse to allow a legally-married spouse to make medical decisions for their incapacitated partner—or allow a religiously-affiliated university to refuse to provide appropriate tax documents to an employee who has divorced or remarried.

H.B. 296/S.B. 261 is equally damaging. If signed into law, this bill would allow private child placement agencies acting in lieu of the state to discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity and family status.

  • Agencies could prefer single women over single men.
  • Agencies could prohibit interfaith couples from adopting.
  • Agencies could prefer couples or individuals who adhere to the faith of the agency‘s religious entity or refuse service to individuals of certain faiths altogether.

HRC Alabama is working to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and 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.

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