The Peach State is turning sour on religious liberty, and the effect could be felt by some of Georgia's most needy citizens: orphans.
A bill on its way through the Senate aims to make adoption faster and easier, but it also requires faith-based adoption agencies to drop their objection to placing children with same-sex couples.
Conservative blogger Erick Erickson wrote the original bill had a provision protecting religious liberty, but Governor Nathan Deal and Speaker David Ralston pressured Senate leaders to take out those protections.
The controversial religious freedom protections stalled the measure last year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that improving the state's adoption laws is a goal of Gov. Deal and Speaker Ralston.
Originally, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to guard agencies that receive taxpayer-subsidized grants, but for religious reasons, do not want to place children in the homes of same-sex couples.
But last week, the committee in an 8-2 vote, took out the religious liberty provisions. If approved by the full Senate, the bill goes back to the House, which gave the thumbs up to its version unanimously last year.
Critics of the religious freedom protections said they would have allowed faith-based adoption agencies to not allow same-sex couples, someone who had been previously divorced or couples of different religions to adopt.
"It's very important for children. And it's important for the good of this session," said Ralston. "It was a bitter pill at the end of last year, and we've got to put that behind us.… We're always open to talking. But we want a clean bill."
State Sen. Josh McKoon expressed reservations.
"It's disappointing to me that we have people engaged in this process for whom it's evidently more important for them to get their way on the bill than to provide common-sense protections for faith-based adoption agencies," he said.
Erickson said the GOP is more concerned with bringing more business into the state than protecting religious freedom.
"The Georgia Republicans are afraid of offending Hollywood studios and Amazon.com, which they are desperate to bring into the state," he said in his blog.
"As a result, they are telling faith-based adoption agencies that they must abandon their views on marriage if they want to place kids in state foster care into loving homes," he continued.
Erickson says faith-based adoption agencies don't have to be abandoned when it comes to overhauling a state's adoption policies, and he points to Texas as an example.
"Amazingly, when Texas updated their adoption laws, the Republicans led by Governor Abbott insisted on religious liberty protections for faith-based adoption agencies," he said.
The conservative editor and radio host says it's a question of priorities.
"They are putting the gay rights agenda ahead of the adoption agenda," he wrote in his blog. "The Georgia Republicans are siding with the secular left in the culture war."
"Any faith-based adoption agency must start adopting to same-sex couples in order to help kids in foster care," he continued.
Taking out religious liberty protections when it comes to adoption is not limited to Georgia.
In a commentary in The Daily Signal Wednesday, entitled, "The New Threat Children Face 45 Years After Roe v. Wade," Monica Burke of The Heritage Foundation writes, "In Boston, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., religious adoption agencies were forced to close their doors after decades of service when the state denied them the ability to place kids with a married mom and dad."
"Thousands of children were displaced in the process," she continued.
"The ACLU alleges that the religious beliefs of faith-based agencies are preventing the children from finding loving homes," Burke added. "But a diversity of adoption providers actually increases the likelihood that these children will find homes."