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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A House Committee has approved a bill that would allow private agencies to turn away gay couples on religious grounds.

The House State Government committee approved the bill Wednesday on a 6-4 vote.

The bill says groups could not be forced to participate in adoptions and foster care placements that violate their religious beliefs. It would prohibit the state from refusing to license, or contract with, the child care service providers that refuse the services on religious grounds.

Proponents said it is needed to protect religious-affiliated organizations from being forced to go against their religious convictions. Opponents said it could legalize a broad range of discrimination in the name of religion.

The bill does not mention homosexuality, but proponents have said it is in anticipation of legalized same-sex marriage.