The state may be broke, skating by on a one-time influx of cash from its BP settlement. We’re in desperate need of raising revenue to prevent catastrophic cuts to basic services in the next fiscal year, but what’s at the top of the state GOP’s agenda? Discrimination of course!

No matter that this is the first legislative session since former Speaker Mike Hubbard’s conviction or that our governor appears to have conveniently promoted the man who could have led to his impeachment over misuse of state funds to cover up an affair.

But none of this matters and it’s business as usual in Montgomery. That means fast-tracking discriminatory bills that will inevitably be challenged in court, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars we can hardly afford to divert toward legal fees.

HB 24, or the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, is another so-called “religious freedom” bill specifically designed to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. This particular piece of legislation would allow agencies responsible for placing children in foster care to deny otherwise qualified  families from serving as foster parents based on their sexual orientation. This could even prevent a child from being placed with another family member–long considered a best practice by child welfare professionals.

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Like so much of the legislature’s handiwork, HB 24 makes no mention of LGBTQ individuals, therefore giving its supporters some level of plausible deniability. It’s also sufficiently vague to allow all sorts of discrimination based on a placing agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” This could potentially extend beyond just LGBTQ individuals to include non-married or single parents, religious minorities, or anyone else exhibiting a quality deemed objectionable on religious–read fundamentalist Christian–grounds.

The bill was forced through committee last week after being conveniently scheduled to coincide with the House Democrats’ caucus meeting ensuring no Democratic members were actually present for the vote. According to an action alert from HRC Alabama, the bill could get a full vote before the House of Representatives as early as Tuesday, February 14th.

Offering adoption and foster care services to the public is not a religious-based activity, and this effort to discriminate using taxpayer dollars is an embarrassing and dangerous distraction from the real problems facing Alabama. – Eva Kendrick, HRC Alabama

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate as SB 145. It has five co-sponsors including Senator Phil Williams who was so excited to get the ball rolling on LGBTQ discrimination that he prefiled an absurd anti-trans bathroom bill shortly after the end of last year’s session. Expect to see that one come up soon.

Alabama’s foster children shouldn’t be used as pawns in a political game for politicians posturing for reelection in 2018. Find your representatives here and tell them to oppose HB 24 and SB 145.

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