By Mary Virginia Huffaker
Tomorrow-Today Staff Writer
On the evening of Friday, Feb. 21, the Alabama Youth In Government Supreme Court challenged SB25, An Act to Protect Same-Sex Couples’ Right to Adopt, by Lucy Bowling. Bowling’s bill would nullify part Alabama’s Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act (HB24). The 2017 act allows some state licensed adoption agencies and foster care agencies to reject qualified prospective LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency’s personal religious beliefs. Bowling’s bill would force those agencies to not discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Bowling began her argument by calling HB24 “harmful to the kids” and “discriminatory.” She argued that using religion to deny prospective LGBTQ families the option to adopt or foster children is inefficient and is not in the best interest of the children. Bowling argues these organizations let their own beliefs get in the way of the interest of the child, even if the child does not have the same beliefs of the organization. She described HB24 as using the 1st amendment as a sword rather than a shield. The 14th amendment equal protection clause was also used as defense for the bill.
The Attorney General Abbie Reynolds began her argument by discussing how SB25 violates the 1st Amendment. She then talked about how children are placed in a plethora of homes, some happen to be religious. SB25 would strip private organizations and agencies of their right to put them in homes that they feel are appropriate for the children. The AG continued saying, the government has no right to regulate private businesses.
When considering their decision, the Supreme Court looked at the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the functionality of agencies deemed as public. According to the opinion of the court, “by banning same-sex couples the right to adopt – the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of the adoptees would have been in jeopardy.” They found the legislation passed in 2017 has discriminatory policies in the violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The court also said that the “ambiguity between public and private agencies leads them both susceptible to regulations by the state governments.” Based upon those reasons, the 6-3 decision found SB25 constitutional.