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Florida House Debates Religious Adoption Agencies' Right To Refuse Parents

Florida House of Representatives

For hours today, the Florida House of Representatives discussed a measure recognizing adoption agencies’ right to refuse prospective parents based on the agencies' religious beliefs.

Opponents of the controversial measure fear it gives agencies that use state money the license to discriminate against a host of people, including those who are gay, transgender or unmarried.

But bill sponsor, Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford), says religious freedom trumps those concerns.

“I don’t believe that the state should be allowed to discriminate against these organizations because of their religious beliefs or convictions. I think that we need more outlets for forever families, not less, so I’m trying to protect those folks that do the good work in the state of Florida from having the government discriminate against their religious beliefs," he said. 

Brodeur says examples in other states led him to file the measure aimed at keeping religious charities in Florida. One example: He says Catholic adoption agencies closed in Boston because they felt compelled by Massachusetts law to offer adoptions to gay couples.

Eighty-two private agencies perform adoptions in Florida. Brodeur says if a prospective parent is rejected by one of them, he can look elsewhere.  

The bill must be read and debated one more time before the House can vote on it. 

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP