Texas Lawmakers Pass Bill to Ensure Adoption Agencies Can Refuse LGBT Parents for Religious Reasons


Bill Protects 'Provider's Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs'

In the very early hours of Monday morning, Texas state senators passed a bill to ensure adoption agencies are allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, same-sex couples, Jews, Muslims, single parents, and other minorities, based on their religious beliefs.

"It is the intent of the legislature to maintain a diverse network of service providers that offer a range of foster capacity options and that can accommodate children from various cultural backgrounds," HB 3859 ironically claims. "To that end, we expect reasonable accommodations to be made by the state to allow people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to be a part of meeting the needs of children in the child welfare system."

But the text of the bill makes clear its true intent.

In part, it states adoption agencies (providers) are to be "protected" against discrimination related to the provider's "sincerely held religious beliefs," the provider's intent to give children a "religious education," the refusal of the provider "to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for abortions, contraceptives, or drugs, devices, or services that are potentially abortion-inducing."

In other words, a pregnant teen who wants or needs an abortion could be barred from one if it violates the adoption agency's religious beliefs, as could a sexually-active teen be barred from receiving contraception if it violates the adoption agency's religious beliefs.

The Human Rights Campaign notes HB 3859, which was authored by Republican State Rep. James Frank, "could also lead to concrete harm to children in care; it would forbid the state from cancelling a state contract with an agency that subjected children in their care to dangerous practices such as so-called 'conversion therapy.'"

Rep. Frank (photo above) in this video explaining his bill claims there is a "capacity crisis," saying, "we don't have enough people involved" in the foster care system. It's unclear how reducing the number of eligible parents will resolve that crisis. 

"Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds — but Texas' rule would extend to state-funded agencies. Only South Dakota's is similarly sweepingly," the Dallas Morning News reported earlier this month.

"As a governmental entity, Texas is bound to treat people equally under the law," Catherine Oakley of the Human Rights Campaign told the newspaper. "This is a violation of equal protection under the law." 

The bill now heads to Texas Governor Greg Abbott's desk. He is expected to sign. It would become law Sept. 1.

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