Texas adoption bill OK's rejection of non-Christian parents

Texas adoption bill OK's rejection of non-Christian parents

Rep. James Frank (R) introducing HB 3859 to the State Affairs Committee back in March. Opponents argue it robs children of stable homes while funding discrimination with taxpayer dollars. If an organization or one of its workers act on their religious beliefs, even if doing so means engaging in discrimination, the state can not withhold state funds, redirect grant money, or take "any action that directly or indirectly adversely affects the [agency] against whom the adverse action is taken..."

The bill would enable detention facilities to hold families for prolonged stays, which advocates say would further children's psychological harm.

Republican sponsors say Texas' bill supports the religious freedom of adoption agencies and foster care providers.

The bill would allow children to be placed in religious-based schools, refuse to contract with other organizations that don't share the same religious beliefs and deny referrals for drugs and abortion related contraceptives.

The bill is one of several measure before the Texas legislature that LGBT activists say infringe on the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Texans.

State-funded adoption agencies backing Texas legislation that would sanction the rejection of prospective parents on religious grounds already routinely deny non-Christian, gay, and unmarried applicants.

Faith-based adoption agencies in the state include Christian Homes & Family Services, Generations Adoptions, Buckner International, ChristianWorks for Children, and Arrow Child & Family Ministries.

Frank also noted that the bill "specifically requires the state to ensure that alternate providers are available to offer any services that a faith-based provider declines to provide due to religious conflicts".

Burke said proposed laws like HB 3859 show that Texas Republicans - who control both the state legislature and the governor's mansion - have "become more emboldened" since the election of President Trump.

This would have serious consequences for a range of vulnerable communities, including young people and families. Five other states have passed similar proposals, the AP noted.

The legislation could have far-reaching effects beyond discriminating against LGBTQ identities. Frank avoided entertaining the hypotheticals, claiming that the intent was more important than the text of the bill and that it wouldn't implicate child placements. HB 3859 does exactly the opposite. Given that many conservative religious belief systems reject LGBTQ identities, this bill essentially authorizes and encourages providers to subject LGBTQ children to potentially harmful psychological trauma. "It nearly feels like the State of Texas is digressing a little bit, if the bill were passed".

Critics said the bill could be used to force foster children to practice a faith that is not their own or be refused emergency contraception after a sexual assault.

"I truly want to see something that doesn't create so much concern and fear", said Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat.

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