Texas House OKs giving adoption agencies 'religious refusal'

State Rep. Gene Wu D-Houston voted no on a motion to table an amendment to House Bill 39 a Child Protective Services reform bill in the Texas House

Texas House OKs giving adoption agencies 'religious refusal'

The bill would protect adoption providers from punishment by the government if they decline to facilitate adoptions to prospective parents due to their religion and/or sexual orientation.

Democrats and civil rights groups said the bill could allow private, faith-based foster care agencies to block parents who practice a different religion or who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Democratic lawmakers believe the bill will give religious groups license to discriminate against divorced, LGBT or non-Christian parents to want to foster or adopt.

In the post, Frank lambasted as inflammatory and incorrect a report last week that said the bill could allow adoption agencies to ban Jews, Muslims and gays.

"HB 3859, while well-intentioned, blurs the goals of the legislature", said Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston.

Before approving the bill, the GOP-dominated House rejected several amendments proposed by Democrats, many of whom also attempted to derail the bill with technical legislative maneuvers.

Frank also said the bill directs state child services to ensure that other outside adoption providers without religious objections are made available to help would-be adoptive parents who get turned away by any who do raise objections. They also say foster children could be forced to practice a faith that is not their own or be refused emergency contraception after a sexual assault. Such actions include denying funding, canceling contracts, and declining licensure, for example.

The bill, which is expected to come up for a state House vote as early as Monday, gives both privately funded and state-funded child welfare agencies the right to deny services on the basis of their "sincerely held religious beliefs". Midnight Thursday is the deadline for the House to pass bills that originate in that chamber, meaning hundreds of pieces of legislation will all but die if not approved by then. 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 organizations are paid by the state to place foster children with adoptive families.

A handful of other states, including South and North Dakota, Michigan and Virginia, have passed similar laws.

The bill that was scheduled for debate and approval this past weekend in the state house, however it will be discussed later this week.

Sponsors of the bill argue that it is created to increase adoption options, by helping to encourage faith-based organizations to continue offering child placement services.

LGBT advocates say that two dozen additional discriminatory bills are pending in the Texas legislature. Republicans reject claims that the law will lead to racial profiling and say it's needed to keep criminals off the streets. "We were present at the birth", he said.

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