Post submitted by Eva Walton Kendrick, Alabama State Manager
Alabama’s most contentious anti-LGBT bill of the 2016 legislative year, H.B. 158 – the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, is officially “dead” after failing to advance to the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives. While other Southern states, such as Mississippi, have advanced horrific legislation targeting the LGBT community this year, fair-minded Alabamians can claim victory in stopping this attack on our community.
H.B. 158 would have allowed state-licensed and funded foster and adoption placing agencies to deny services to Alabama’s youth and families based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rich Wingo of Tuscaloosa, had explicitly stated throughout hearings in the House Health Committee that he introduced the bill targeting same-sex couples as a direct response to the Supreme Court’s June 2015 marriage equality decision.
HRC Alabama staff and statewide pro-equality partners worked closely with our bipartisan allies throughout the three-month legislative session to successfully kill both H.B. 158 and its companion bill in the Senate, S.B. 204.
This legislative victory for Alabama’s youth and families is in great part the work of thousands of HRC Alabama constituents who responded overwhelmingly to action alert requests around stopping H.B. 158. The flood of attention these constituents brought to the discriminatory nature and long-term harm of H.B. 158 helped secure its defeat and ensure that all foster and adoption placement agencies in the state of Alabama should recognize same-sex families as equal options for placement of the more than 5,500 children currently awaiting loving, stable homes.
The Alabama Legislature will adjourn sine die on Wednesday, May 4. HRC Alabama staff expect that all anti-LGBT pieces of legislation will fail to pass this session.