The Florida House on Thursday approved
a bill that seeks to allow private adoption agencies to deny
adoptions to gay couples based on religious beliefs.
HB 711 overwhelmingly cleared the
chamber (75-38) mostly along party lines.
The bill allows private adoption
agencies to deny adoptions to couples if they have a religious or
Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur said his
bill wasn't about discrimination because gay couples could turn to
state and secular adoption agencies.
“I don't believe that the state
should be allowed to discriminate against these organizations because
of their religious beliefs or convictions,” Brodeur
said. “So I'm trying to protect those folks that do good work
in the state of Florida from having the government discriminate
against their religious beliefs.”
Critics of the measure noted that it
allows agencies to reject couples based on “moral objections” and
that such agencies could still receive taxpayer funds.
Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida,
the state's largest LGBT rights advocate, called the bill
“discrimination in its ugliest form.”
Five years ago, an appeals court struck
down Florida's outright ban on gay men and lesbians adopting.