CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida House of Representatives rejected amendments to HB 7111 that would have banned discrimination and made the best interests of children the primary consideration in adoption and foster placements in passing the bill on to final reading. HB 7111 authorizes state-contracted child placement agencies to deny children in State custody foster or adoption placements based on the moral or religious beliefs of the agencies, even if those placements are in the best interests of the child.

The House rejected a number of proposed amendments aimed at making sure children’s interests are protected, including an amendment requiring that an agency’s decision to refuse make a placement “must be based on an individualized assessment of the best interests of the child,” and multiple amendments that would have explicitly banned discrimination based on various characteristics, including race, religion, national origin, religion, and sexual orientation.

The final House vote on the bill is expected tomorrow, April 9. Responding to today’s vote, ACLU of Florida Public Policy Director Michelle Richardson stated:

“The House today demonstrated that it values the ability to discriminate over the needs of our State’s most vulnerable children. In rejecting common-sense amendments that would have prohibited discrimination and made explicit that the interests of the child must be the primary consideration in any foster or adoptive placement, the House has proven that this bill has never been about protecting children.

“Many Florida children who are currently thriving in loving families could still be waiting on a placement had this law been in effect when they were adopted. Their agencies could have rejected their placement for any number of reasons: simply because the otherwise-qualified parent is single, divorced, of the ‘wrong’ religion, or are gay or lesbian.

“When kids are placed in the care of the State because of abuse or neglect, they must have their foster or adoptive family chosen based on their needs, not the religious or moral beliefs of agencies the State hires to care for them. In supporting this bill, members are plugging their ears and ignoring both the warnings of child welfare advocates in Florida and the national outcry that has arisen around recent bills in other states that similarly would give license to use religion to discriminate.”

Anthony Siegrist, a 16-year-old from Clearwater, Florida, has shared a story of how he was adopted out of foster care by his mothers and his concern that the bill would have prevented him from finding his family, stating: “I am so thankful that this proposed law didn’t exist when I was waiting for a family to adopt me. I could have been denied the parents that I was clearly meant to have.”

Anthony’s full story is available here:

The ACLU of Florida has created an online form so Floridians can contact their representatives and urge them to vote against the bill.