Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider blog
Photo: Greg Bluestein/Political Insider blog

Georgia governor wants clean adoption bill ‘as early as possible’

Gov. Nathan Deal called on lawmakers to swiftly pass a measure to update Georgia’s adoption laws without a controversial “religious liberty” provision when they reconvene Monday to start another legislative session.

“I do think it will have a high priority within the General Assembly, and I certainly support the clean bill,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll send it to my desk as early as possible.” 

The debate over the adoption overhaul is one of the thorniest fights in the Legislature, and Deal is echoing a position he took throughout last year’s back-and-forth over the bill. Both he and House Speaker David Ralston demand a “clean” version of the adoption measure stripped of what they see as discriminatory language. 

They’re at odds with a provision championed by Senate Republicans that would have allowed some private agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. Among them is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a candidate for governor who last year led the Senate in a feud with the House over the measure. 

The House and Senate ultimately couldn’t forge a deal in the final hours of the session, and the last-minute infighting frustrated Ralston and Deal - and could have prompted the governor to veto on an unrelated foster-care measure backed by several Senate leaders.

One of Cagle’s top Republican rivals, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, has also called for a “clean” adoption bill, seeking to put the lieutenant governor in a tough position ahead of another fraught debate.

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