Texas' state House has voted in favor of passing a bill which would allow faith-based child welfare services providers to approve or reject the application of foster and adoptive parents based on their religious beliefs.
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On May 9, Texas House voted 94-51 to pass House Bill 3859, which would provide legal protection to child welfare service providers that reject prospective adoptive parents if they do not share the same religious belief with the organization. Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), who authored the adoption bill, said the declinations would be allowed in "very specific, limited circumstances," the Houston Chronicle details.
According to Frank, the bill encourages all people from varying cultures and religions to participate, given that a quarter of the providers in Texas are faith-based. He also said the measure aims to specialize and not to ban or discriminate against anybody.
"The fact that we make reasonable accommodations allowed me to participate, and I think that's the same case," said Frank, who shared how he and his wife chose to adopt only a boy older than 8 years old. "As long as we are not asking people to do unreasonable things, then we simply add to our capacity with people from all walks of life."
The newly passed adoption bill sparked opposition from Democrats and other progressive groups. They denounced the measure as discriminatory against religious and sexual minorities.
The Human Rights Campaign also slammed the Texas House of Representatives for voting in favor of HB 3859. The organization also warned that the measure could discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents and against children who need a loving home.
"HB 3859 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," said HRC national field director Marty Rouse.
In addition, HRC expressed fear that HB 3859 could cause harm to children under the welfare system. Moreover, the organization pointed out that the bill would block the state from cancelling a contract with an agency that conducts gay "conversion therapy" for kids under their care.