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 moral objection.

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.