Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Medical | By Dorothy Lyons

Texas House OKs letting adoption groups deny non-Christians

Texas House OKs letting adoption groups deny non-Christians

"Because of the action we took, children in Texas are going to be worse off" - Rep. Helen Giddings, D-Dallas, after her non-controversial bill that would have prevented so-called public "shaming" of students who families fall behind on paying for their school-provided lunches was delayed - and probably killed - by a parliamentary maneuver on the House floor.

This week, Alabama passed a similar law, but it does not apply to adoption agencies that receive state or federal funding.

Under the bill - foster care providers could refuse to place kids with LGBT households if they assert their "sincerely held religious beliefs".

Suzanne Bryant, an Austin-based adoption attorney who works with LGBT clients and was one of the first individuals to have a legal same-sex marriage in Texas, said the bill fails to provide alternatives for prospective parents rebuffed by adoption agencies.

The Texas Senate has approved a bill expanding the definition of hazing in civil and criminal cases.

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.

"It's horrific that the Texas House would allow state-funded or private adoption agencies to use religious exemptions as a weapon to ban qualified LGBTQ families from adopting a child", Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEo of GLAAD, said in a statement.

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But Texas' bill is far more expansive than both of its predecessors because HB 3859 offers a broad definition of "child welfare services".

The legislation passed by a 94-51 vote - which was mostly among party lines, except for three Democrats who supported the bill - after several hours of debate, many proposed amendments design to weaken the bill, and multiple procedural attempts to kill the bill.

This would have serious consequences for a range of vulnerable communities, including young people and families. "As a mother, it's infuriating to see anti-LGBTQ politicians do literally anything, including harming a child's future, to drive their discriminatory anti-LGBTQ political agendas forward".

"We believe there is room for all of us to care for these children, and we believe this bill ensures the inclusion of everyone while enabling us to adhere to our deeply held religious convictions", he added. "HB 3859 only accentuates and gives credence to discrimination".

The bill allows Texas to license two family lockdowns, despite court rulings that say such facilities don't meet requirements to care for kids. She said Wednesday that alterations the House made while approving her bill last week were "bad for Houston taxpayers" and "shockingly fiscally irresponsible".

Final passage by the Texas House came Wednesday morning on a vote of 93-49. Additionally, HB 3859 would allow the agencies tasked by the state with caring for these children to put discrimination over the best interests of the child - they are allowed to refuse to provide services that children in care may desperately need, or subject children to care that is contrary to a child's best interest.

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