On the same day the city of Oxford Ala., repealed their vile anti-transgender ordinance, HRC Alabama and its supporters marked the end of Alabama’s 2016 legislative session. While seven anti-LGBT bills were introduced, not a single one passed the state legislature this year.
This was by no means an easy feat. One of our biggest battles came with HB 158, the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, and its Senate Companion, SB 204. These horrific bills would have enshrined discrimination into Alabama law by allowing adoption and foster care agencies -- licensed and funded by the state, no less -- to reject qualified, prospective LGBT adoptive or foster parents, based on the agency’s religious beliefs. HRC Alabama worked closely with local partners to educate House and Senate members on how harmful these bills would be to the more than 5,500 Alabama children in need of loving homes, and rally support from fair-minded constituents committed to standing against discrimination.
Leaders from several of the nation’s top child advocacy organizations also released a letter condemning this type of legislation. The letter reads in part: “The undersigned nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations are dedicated to ensuring safety, permanency and wellbeing for children and families that are connected to adoption and foster care. This includes providing leadership that improves laws, policies and practices through sound research, analysis, education and advocacy….. As such, we are in opposition to SB 204, The Alabama Child Care Provider Inclusion Act.”
Anti-LGBT lawmakers also introduced a slew of mean-spirited, unnecessary bills including HB 159, which would have allowed health care service providers to refuse service based on their religious beliefs; and HB 130, legislation that would have protected clergy from performing same-sex weddings, a right already granted to them under the First Amendment of United States Constitution.
Another empty resolution that was a direct attack on the Constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry was SJR 39. This was nothing more than a symbolic attempt by state lawmakers to express their animosity towards the historic Supreme Court of the United States marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges last June. It would have been a slap in the face to loving and committed same-sex couples throughout the state, though it would not have impinged upon marriage equality in Alabama. .
HRC Alabama worked closely throughout the legislative session with our partners at the SPLC and the ACLU of Alabama to beat back the state’s anti-LGBT bills. This year, with the introduction of nearly 200 of these egregious bills in 35 states, our opponents ramped up their efforts this session, but so did we. As Alabama’s State Legislature adjourns, only 22 bills remain in 7 states.