Ligon’s changes remain in the bill and would give agencies broad protection to refuse service to anyone on religious grounds. That could include someone who had previously been divorced, same-sex couples or couples of different religions. Critics immediately said they feared it would allow state-sanctioned discrimination.
Supporters said the amendment would protect adoption agencies from having to violate deeply held religious beliefs. They also noted that some adoption agencies work with LGBT families and that those agencies could continue with that work.
Bobby Cagle, the director at the state’s Division of Family and Children Services, said last week that the provision endangers “hundreds of millions of dollars” the agency receives from the federal government because it appears to violate federal nondiscrimination laws.
Cagle said the agency uses state and federal money to help place children needing homes and that none of the 89 agencies the department works with are allowed to refuse placement based on religious objections.
Gov. Nathan Deal criticized the change earlier this week, saying he supported the overall bill and wanted the change reconsidered. The state's top business organizations also spoke out against it, as the Senate's powerful Rules Committee kicked the bill back to the Judiciary Committee because it "went a little extreme," said Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.
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