Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Medical | By Sammy Miller

Texas to vote on religion-based adoption

Texas to vote on religion-based adoption

Parents with differing beliefs, or who chose to be single, or chose not to be religious at all could, under the new bill, be legally prevented from adopting children at the whim of adoption agencies.

Frank also states that the bill protects the rights of faith-based organizations to exercise their religious mission to serve others without fear of retaliation.

"The objective is not to exclude or deny services", said state Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), who also authored the bill, "it is to help as many people as possible to participate in services in a way that respects all points of view".

During the floor debate, Rep. Donna Howard (D) grilled Frank on different forms of discrimination the bill could allow.

"There are other agencies that will come along and replace them if they don't want to work with LGBT couples, and we've seen that in other parts of the country", Cazares-Thomas said.

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.

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. Republican sponsors of the bill said that it is created to shield the agencies from possible court fights.

The bill, authored by state Rep. James Frank will allow faith-based state-funded or private adoption agencies to reject potential candidates based on their religion, if they are single, or because of their sexual orientation. 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.

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Gay rights groups and some foster families worry they're being unfairly targeted by a state adoption bill passed Wednesday by Texas House lawmakers.

It also provides protections for agencies who intend to enroll children in religious educational institutions, as well as those who decline to provide referrals for abortion or contraceptives.

"I think that any House bill that enforces discrimination or says that one group is better than another group is not in line with the principles and values of America", said Senior Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas.

The organizations are paid by the state to place foster children with adoptive families. But if they did, he said, the bill requires them to refer the parents to a "secondary" provider in the same area.

"It is extremely important that we know what's happening with these children", Howard said.

A final vote will be needed Wednesday to send the measure to the state Senate, which is even more conservative.

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