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New Adoption Law in Alabama Permits Turning Away Gay Couples

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 08, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Religious freedom may be one of the tenets upon which the USA was founded, but you sure wouldn't be able to tell based on the law that just passed in Alabama by an overwhelming majority. The result of the new law is that faith-based adoption agencies can turn away gay couples who are looking to adopt. The law doesn't apply to agencies that receive state or federal funding.

Basically, the law gives Alabama's private, religious adoption agencies the right to discriminate against LGBT communities, as well as other faiths, atheists, and agnostics, when providing the public service as an adoption provider. The state's only openly gay congressperson, P. Todd, called the law "bigotry in the first degree."

Religious Discrimination and/or Freedom

It seems odd that a religious organization needs the state's blessing to discriminate against people who do not share their religious beliefs. The guarantee of the First Amendment, that the government not pass laws preventing people from freely expressing their religious beliefs, seems confused, unclear, and at odds here. The organizations assert that they need the protection so they are not forced to do something that violates their beliefs. 

However, the protection they are seeking requires the government to prohibit rights guaranteed to other individuals based on those person's religious beliefs. Furthermore, it denies the children the right to be adopted based upon the organization's, and not the child's, religious beliefs. This means that a Muslim child could be denied placement to a Muslim family.

Why Do Religious Child Placement Services Need Protection From State Discrimination?

It's curious that there is not a single documented case of a religious child placement service being forced to adopt a child to someone who didn't meet their moral high-ground. In other words, it seems that the law was not needed. The organizations, lobbyists, private interests, and government lawmakers, that supported the law engaged in a political tactic often referred to as fear mongering. This is when an issue that presents no actual threat is built up to be a perceived threat so that the public will be swayed to adopt a politicized agenda.

The adoption process can be complex. If you are looking to adopt a child, you should consider contacting a lawyer for assistance.

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