Anti-LGBT amendment delays adoption bill

State Sen. Jeff Mullis presents Senate Bill 369, which would set stricter rules for when and where you could set off fireworks in Georgia. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

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State Sen. Jeff Mullis presents Senate Bill 369, which would set stricter rules for when and where you could set off fireworks in Georgia. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

A rewrite of Georgia’s adoption laws that late last week had an anti-LGBT amendment added to it was sent back to a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, announced that House Bill 159 would be sent back to the Judiciary Committee for more work. Mullis said the bill had become too "extreme."

A Judiciary subcommittee has a meeting planned for 4 p.m. Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether the bill would be changed then. Lawmakers have four days left in this year’s 40-day legislative session.

Late last week the same Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 along party lines to add to HB 159 a change that would allow private adoption agencies that receive state funds to refuse to place a child with an LGBT family.

The amendment would give agencies broad protection to refuse service to anyone on religious grounds. That could also include someone who had previously been divorced, same-sex couples or couples of different religions.

Supporters said the amendment would protect adoption agencies from having to violate deeply held religious beliefs. They also noted that many adoption agencies work with LGBT families.

Gov. Nathan Deal criticized the changes Monday, and the state's top business organizations came out opposed to the amendment.

A group of child advocacy groups and LGBT activists canceled a news conference planned for Tuesday after the bill was sent back to committee.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.