COVID-19 Special Coverage
Alabama governor signs law permitting adoption agencies to exclude same-sex couples
Alabama governor signs law permitting adoption agencies to exclude same-sex couples

[JURIST] Alabama Governor Kay Ivey [official website] signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will allow religious adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples if such relationships violate the religious beliefs of the organization. Alabama House Bill 24 [text, PDF], now the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, reads “This bill would prohibit the state from refusing to license or renew the license of a child placing agency on the basis that the provider declines to carry out an activity that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the agency.” Ivey said [Washington Post report] “This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home.” Before the bill was approved, Human Rights Watch [advocacy site] said [press release] the bill “would undermine laws designed to put the best interest of the child at the forefront of placement decisions, and would tie the state’s hands as it tries to place children with families who can care for them.” States with similar laws are Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia.

The rights of same-sex couples remains an ongoing issue after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision. In February a federal judge ordered [JURIST report] South Carolina to list both same-sex parents on a child’s birth certificate. In December the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a law [JURIST report] that places only the biological parents on the birth certificate, finding that equal protection was not violated by “acknowledging basic biological truths.” In August New York’s top court expanded [JURIST report] the definition of “parent” to better accommodate same-sex couples. Last May the Alabama Supreme Court vacated [JURIST report] its prior ruling refusing to recognize same-sex adoption from other states. Last April a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi struck down [JURIST report] Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex partners.