PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Senate Committee Takes Up Adoption Discrimination Bill

Alvert Barnes via Flickr Creative Commons

A Florida Senate Committee is set to take up a bill today that would permit adoption agencies to turn away gay individuals or same-sex couples on the basis of a moral or religious belief. 

Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, proposed HB7111 following votes in both the House and Senate to strike down Florida’s ban on gay adoption, which remained on the books after being ruled unconstitutional in 2010.  Rep. Brodeur points to cities like Boston and San Francisco where faith-based child placement agencies like Catholic Charities no longer provide adoption services fearing lawsuits for their stance on not placing children with same-sex couples. “It’s a reflection of the fact that in other states, organizations with religious or moral objections have been getting sued and being put out of business and that’s not in the best interest of the state and its certainly not in the best interest of the most compromised and vulnerable of our society,” said Rep. Brodeur. 

“What we’re saying in this bill, very narrowly crafted for the handful of private adoption agencies that have a written moral or religious objection, is that they cannot have that be a basis for damages or for retribution.”

Opponents have compared it to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  Anti-Defamation League attorney Dave Barkley challenges Brodeur’s characterization of the bill.  “It allows any child placing agency; they don’t have to be religious in nature, to deny services to an otherwise qualified individual or couple based on religion or morals,” said Barkely.  “So even if you don’t have a religious belief; let’s say you just don’t like gay people or Jewish people or Muslim people, you could deny services.”

The bill passed the full House earlier this month.  The Senate Rules Committee takes it up Monday afternoon.