Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Monday signed a bill that restricts gay adoption in the state, the Arizona Republic reported.

Republican Senator Linda Gray's measure requires both state and private adoption agencies to give preference to married heterosexual couples.

Critics of the law said it will discourage unmarried persons from considering adoption.

In hailing passage of the bill, Cathi Herrod, president of the socially conservative group Center for Arizona Policy, said that the bill was among those that dealt with “critical issues of life, marriage and religious liberty.”

Ellen Kahn, family project director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, condemned Brewer for signing the law.

“Arizona's children and youth suffered a major defeat when this discriminatory bill was signed into law. At a time when far too many children are in need of a loving forever home, this new law limits the number of families available to them. Child welfare experts agree that adoptive parents should be judged by their character and their ability to raise a child, not on their marital status or sexual orientation. It's shameful that politics trumps the needs of children. In Arizona, approximately one-third of qualified adults adopting from foster care are single parents.”

Supporters of the measure said children need both a mom and a dad.