Gov. Nathan Deal again voiced his opposition to anti-LGBT legislation, this time coming out against changes lawmakers made to a bill that would allow agencies to ban adoptions to LGBT people.
Deal's comments came Monday, four days after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to amend House Bill 159. The measure would modernize the state's adoption laws. But the panel voted 7-4 – the committee's Republicans all supported; the four Democrats opposed it – to add language that would allow private adoption agencies that receive public funds to refuse adoptions to LGBT people or others that run counter to their faith-based missions.
The bill's sponsor – Rep. Bert Reeves, a Republican from Marietta – objected to the amendment. On Monday, so did Deal.
“I would hope they would reconsider the addition to this language that could put the whole bill in jeopardy,” Deal said in an interview.
The governor also said he was concerned that the state could lose millions of dollars in federal funding if the amended legislation passed. Officials from the state Division of Family & Children Services told lawmakers on Thursday that the amendment could run afoul of federal non-discrimination policies. Via the AJC:
“I certainly don’t want that to happen," Deal said.
“Obviously, you have to be concerned because that is a major program that is administered by DFCS,” he said.
In March 2016, Deal vetoed a sweeping anti-LGBT bill that generated a national controversy. In January, ahead of the current legislative session, Deal urged lawmakers to focus on the future and not anti-LGBT bills.
Some 19 GOP senators weren't persuaded and in February reignited the "religious freedom" debate when Sen. Marty Harbin introduced Senate Bill 233. Deal blasted the measure as not "beneficial to the state."
The adoption bill is now before the Senate Rules Committee, which will decide whether it moves to the full Senate for a vote. On Monday, the committee didn't take action on the measure. There are three legislative days left before the General Assembly session ends.