An amendment to a funding bill that seeks to allow adoption agencies to refuse gay and lesbian couples cleared a House committee on Wednesday.

The amendment was introduced by Representative Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama. It would prohibit federal, state and local governments from denying funds to adoption agencies that have “declined or will decline to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with … the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs of convictions.”

State and local governments that violate the law would be penalized with a fifteen percent cut in federal funding.

According to the Washington Blade, the House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment on a 29-23 party line as part of funding legislation for the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Services and Education. Representative Scott Taylor of Virginia joined Democrats on the panel in voting against the amendment.

Similar laws have been enacted in several states, including Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, criticized the amendment and called on lawmakers not to support it.

“Any Member of Congress who supports this amendment is clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate than it is to find loving homes for children in need,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “Congress should be focusing on ways to help children in the child welfare system find homes rather than creating needless obstacles for prospective parents, effectively shrinking the pool of qualified folks who want to provide children with a loving home. HRC urges Congress to reject this discriminatory amendment in the final appropriations bill.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, called the proposal “disgusting.”

“House Democrats will fight this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive bill with all our strength,” Pelosi said in a statement. “There is no place for bigotry or discrimination in our foster and adoption systems – or in any part of our democracy.”