A bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs cleared the Georgia Senate on Friday.

The bill, Senate Bill 375, is titled the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act.” Introduced earlier this month by Senator William Ligon, a Republican from Brunswick, the bill also would prohibit the Georgia Department of Human Services from taking “adverse action” against adoption agencies that turn away gay couples, the Georgia Voice reported.

The chamber's 19 Democratic senators voted against the measure. It now heads to the House, where Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats.

Ligon, the bill's sponsor, argued that the bill would lead to increased adoption opportunities by encouraging more religious adoption agencies to open in the state.

“This bill does not prevent anyone from adopting,” he told colleagues.

Senator Nan Orrock, a Democrat from Atlanta, questioned Ligon's assertion.

“This proposition that we should encourage agencies and change our law and protect agencies that are going to deny loving families the opportunity to adopt is backwards on its face,” Orrock said. “You want more families coming forward to adopt children and reduce the load of children stuck in the foster system? The way that you do that is not to bar LGBT couples from adopting.”

“It's a slap in the face to same-sex couple that would consider adoption,” she added.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, said that the bill is “discrimination dressed up as a 'solution' to a fake problem.”

“It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Georgia and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home,” Marty Rouse, HRC national field director, said in a statement.