77ºF

Senate panel to consider 'conscience protection'

photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Senate committee Monday is expected to take up a controversial House bill that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

The House last week passed the measure (HB 7111), which supporters have described as the "conscience protection" bill.

The Senate Rules Committee has put the issue on its agenda for a Monday afternoon meeting.

The bill is designed, at least in part, for religiously affiliated adoption agencies whose beliefs prevent them from placing children with same-sex couples.

Critics contend the bill would lead to discrimination against prospective gay and lesbian parents.

The issue emerged amid controversy about another bill that included repealing a decades-old law that banned gay adoption. That law has not been enforced in recent years because of an appeals-court ruling, but the proposed repeal touched off a backlash from social conservatives.

The House and Senate have passed the other bill (HB 7013), which largely deals with providing incentives to state employees to adopt foster children. That bill awaits action from Gov. Rick Scott.