The Texas House of Representatives has passed HB 3859—a bill that will allow adoption agencies in the state to turn away prospective parents on the basis of “sincerely held religious beliefs” if it passes the Senate.
This could mean that LGBT+ couples, non-Christian couples and single parents could be prevented from adopting a child in Texas and that LGBT+ kids could be subjected to ‘gay conversion therapy’.
According to the Human Rights Council (HRC), the bill 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'.”
Marty Rouse is an adoptive and foster parent and the national field director for the HRC and says the bill is “yet another example of Texas legislators’ coordinated efforts to pursue discrimination against LGBTQ people instead of focusing on the best interest of all Texans.
“If signed into law, this bill would most harm the children in Texas’ child welfare system — kids who need a loving, stable home.
“Discrimination under law is unacceptable.
“The Senate must recognize this bill for what it is: an attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans, this time targeting some of Texas’ most vulnerable residents: children in the child welfare system.”
The bill’s author, Republican representative James Frank says that the bill “seeks to protect faith-based providers from adverse actions for exercising their deeply held religious beliefs" via a statement on his Facebook page.
“At the same time, it requires the Department of Family and Protective Services to ensure alternative providers are present to offer any service denied for reasons of sincerely held religious beliefs," says Frank.
However, Rebecca L. Robertson - the legal and policy director for ACLU Texas - says that the best interests of Texan children awaiting adoption or foster care are being ignored.
“Discrimination in the name of religion has no place in our laws or in our state, and it certainly should not be used to harm children.
“There are currently 22,000 children awaiting placement in Texas and last year alone, 252 children died of abuse and neglect in our broken CPS system.
“It is shocking that the Texas House would respond to this crisis by prioritising the personal religious beliefs of providers over the best interests of the children in the state's care,” says Robertson.
The bill was passed by a vote of 93-49 in the House of Representatives and will now be sent to the Senate.