Florida House of Representatives Passes Bill That Will Affect Same-Sex Adoptions

The Florida House passed a “conscience protection” bill — HB 7111 — that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse child placements with same-sex couples based on the agencies’ religious beliefs. This legislation was proposed less than a month after the Florida House approved an amendment that would repeal the state’s statutory ban on gay and lesbian adoption.

Representative Jason Brodeur, sponsor of the conscience protection bill, said the measure was inspired to protect adoption and foster-care agencies if they choose to refuse service to individuals when it violates their religious or moral convictions. The bill would require agencies to publish their religious views so it is known up front what types of placements they would approve.

The bill also prohibits Florida’s Department of Children and Families from denying or revoking licensing to agencies that refuse adoptions based on religious beliefs as well as withholding grants or refusing participation in government programs.

Brodeur disclosed that some of the 82 non-governmental adoption agencies in Florida do not approve of single people, unmarried couples, or homosexual couples adopting children. The Sanford, Florida Representative created this legislation to protect those agencies’ fundamental beliefs and stated that gay couples can use other agencies for their adoptions, such as the state’s Department of Children and Families. Brodeur does not want to see agencies that refuse adoptions to gay couples because of its religious convictions get sued and put out of business which has happened in other states.

Opponents of the bill feel it endorses blatant discrimination. Not only would same-sex couples be affected by the legislation, but other adoption candidates such as singles, multi-racial couples, and individuals of certain religions could feel the impact. Challengers feel the passage of this bill would prevent many children from finding loving homes and could also strike a blow to Florida’s tourism. The lightning rod for challengers of this measure is that private adoption agencies that choose to deny adoption applicants based on their religious beliefs and moral convictions can receive state dollars.

The bill moves to the state Senate.

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