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Bill to restrict gay adoption, court rules on river pollution and Montgomery march update

Gerald Allen
Alabama Senator Gerald Allen

A state lawmaker wants to make sure that faith-based adoption agencies have the right to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa introduced the bill last week specifying groups that could refuse to participate in adoptions and foster care placements that violate their religious beliefs.

The bill would also prohibit the state of Alabama from refusing to license, or renew a contract with, the groups for refusing services to people on religious grounds.

Eric Johnston, an attorney who worked on the bill, says the legislation protects the religious freedom of the groups which have a church affiliation.

The Human Rights Campaign has been outspoken against the bill, saying it opens the door to discrimination against a diverse array of families who are just seeking to adopt needy children.

A federal court has ruled in favor of two environmental groups that challenged a permit process they said will allow coal mines to pollute miles of streams. However, the fight isn’t over yet.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped short of tossing out the permits. Black Warrior Riverkeeper and Defenders of Wildlife sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2013 over a general permit that allows surface mining operations to discharge dredged materials into streams.

The Corps of Engineers limited use of the permit in 2012 but grandfathered in operations. Judges said the Corps admitted that it underestimated the acreage of impacted waters.

The 11th Circuit gave the Corps a year to recalculate the impact and to see if it is significant.

The daughters of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Governor George Wallace will meet with Governor Robert Bentley today.

It’s all part of a ceremony to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. It was on this date in 1965 that Dr. King led the procession to Alabama’s State Capitol.

APR spoke with Bernice King during the remembrance of “bloody Sunday” in Selma. She says voting rights are being challenged in the U.S. and the fight has to go on…

“There are so many things that have threatened the right of people today with the gutting of the voting rights act and even here with voter I.D. laws that have been put in place. It seems like we’ve taken a step back, but there are also opportunities.”

King is referring to a U.S. Supreme Court decision to remove election oversight through the Voting Rights Act.

Be sure to join APR this Friday evening at 7 PM for the documentary “More Bridges to Cross.”

Jefferson County health officials are currently on high alert after a positive case of tuberculosis at Homewood High School.

The Jefferson County Department of Health notified the school district yesterday afternoon that a school freshman had tested positive for the disease

Homewood City Schools Superintendent Bill Cleveland says his staff will be offering voluntary TB tests for students and staff today after the positive test.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that usually targets the lungs, but may also impact other areas of the body. The disease is highly contagious and usually spreads through the air when someone carrying it in their lungs or throat coughs or sneezes and someone nearby inhales the bacteria.

The Alabama Department of Public Health lists 133 cases of tuberculosis in Alabama last year. That's a rate of 2.8 cases per 100,000 people.

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