A bill that would give foster care and adoption agencies that receive state funding in the Lone Star State the ability to refuse to place children with families they disapprove of based on religious grounds — including those of same sex and transgender people – has recently been passed by the Texas House of Representatives.
According to an article that appeared in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/texas-adoption-bill-religous-grounds), the bill must still pass the Texas Senate. It also allows agencies to cite religious objections in denying contraception and abortion services to teenagers.
Those who support the measure argue that it will permit social service agencies and organizations to pursue faith based policies while protecting them from facing discrimination lawsuits, the New York Times said.
Among the groups applauding the passage of the measure in the House was the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. In a statement, the bishops said they look forward to the bill’s quick passage by the Senate.
If the bill passes, it would make it illegal for Texas to penalize an agency if it denies service to someone based on religious grounds. Opponents argue that the bill might unfairly potential adoptive parents who are non-Christian; those who have inter-faith marriages; those who have been divorced and remarried and atheists.
In 2015, a federal judge ruled that the Texas Child Protective Services Division exposed children to an unreasonable risk of harm, thereby damaging their constitutional rights. Rep. James Frank, who authored the bill, said it simply allows agencies to operate without the fear of legal reprisals.
Opponents of the measure say it would make a child’s path to adoption more difficult by taking away the ability of gay and transgender people to adopt.
About 22,000 children in Texas are awaiting foster home placement. Both Alabama and South Dakota have passed similar laws.