On Tuesday, January 7, the Health Committee of the Alabama House voted in favor of House Bill 24 titled: Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act. If enacted the bill would allow adoption and foster care agencies funded by the state and doing the work of the state to discriminate against LGBT citizens. According to the text of the bill:

          This bill would prohibit the state from
discriminating against child placing agencies on
the basis that the provider declines to provide a
child placement that conflicts with the religious
beliefs of the provider.

         This bill would prohibit the state from
refusing to license or renew the license of a child
placing agency on the basis that the provider
declines to carry out an activity that conflicts
with the religious beliefs of the agency.

This bigotry would not only be sanctioned and encouraged by the state; it would be paid for by the state. At the same time, the state has redefined what Free Exercise enshrined in the First Amendment means:

(9) The right to free exercise of religion for child
placing agencies includes the freedom to refrain from conduct
that conflicts with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

That is utter nonsense. Gibberish. According to Reynolds v. United States (1879 and still precedent), the state has the right to regulate conduct and in doing so is not regulating belief and is thus not insulting the Free Exercise clause of the Constitution.

(14) There is no compelling reason to require a
child placing agency to violate its sincerely held religious
beliefs in providing any service, since alternative access to
the services is equally available.

That is offensive separate but equal bullshit. It is comparable to suggesting that a restaurant can discriminate because another restaurant down the block serves [fill in the blank]. This is a reminder that this is Alabama and its religious yahoos.

The way the bill is written any employee of any adoption agency can decline to place a child with a gay couple simply because he or she disapproves of gay people. This seems to be an accommodation carved out for the Catholic Church but it is blatantly unconstitutional. It deprives gay couples of Equal Protection and Due Process and it insults the Establishment Clause. Yeah but it’s Alabama.

I should note that LGBT children are significantly over-represented in the foster care system and it might be to their advantage to be placed with a gay couple.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.