Panel votes to allow adoption agencies to refuse gay couples

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A South Dakota legislative panel has approved a bill that would protect religious adoption agencies or foster groups that won't work with same-sex couples and single parents.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill 5-2 Wednesday despite state and federal standards that bar agencies receiving state funds from denying prospective parents based on religion, sexual orientation, marital status, race or gender.

The Argus Leader reports bill supporters say the agencies shouldn't have to abandon their religious views and would allow the groups to only place children with traditional families whose views align with their own.

A gay foster father from Sioux Falls testified that the bill could deny kids a loving family. Other opponents say it would limit the pool of prospective foster parents.