ATLANTA - A proposal that would allow religious adoption agencies in Georgia to refuse to work with same-sex couples has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The contentious "religious liberties" bill passed the committee Tuesday by a vote of 5-2 and could soon face a vote before the full Georgia Senate.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the vote was split along party lines, with five Republicans supporting the measure and two Democrats opposing it.
The sponsor of the proposal, Sen. William Ligon, a Brunswick Republican, said the measure was needed to ensure that religious organizations could participate in the adoption process.
Ligon believes the bill will bring more adoption agencies to Georgia and mean a quicker path for more adoptions.
"This is going to keep the doors open for our faith-based agencies in Georgia and it's going to open the doors for additional agencies that would like to come in and start doing business with the state," he said.
Supporter Sen. Josh McKoon believes having more adoption agencies in the state can only help children in foster care.
"The policy is: Let's maximize the number of children who get a permanent placement. Then we want as many competent players as possible in the field," he said.
Opponents of the bill said it would effectively allow state-sponsored discrimination by adoption agencies.
"This allows some agencies to claim a religious exemption from the rules that everyone else has to play by," said Jeff Graham, with Georgia Equality.
Sen. Elena Parent, an Atlanta Democrat, said the measure would discourage some parents from adopting.
"I just think it sends a message, a very bad message to prospective families and I think it's basically moving our public policy in the wrong direction when we should be focused on children and finding loving homes," she said.
The Senate could vote on the bill later this week.
Information from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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