The stated goal of Texas’ HB 3859 is to provide “religious freedom” to adoption and foster care agencies that receive funding from or have any sort of contract with the state.
What it actually does is create a way for Christians running those facilities to discriminate against atheists, Muslims, Jews, LGBT people, single people, or anyone else they find objectionable for religious reasons. (Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin would still be illegal.)
That’s not all. Christian foster parents would have the ability to put children under their care in private religious schools. They would also be allowed to refuse contraception to those kids — and they wouldn’t have to help them procure an abortion if needed.
That’s not all.
Foster care organizations could also require children to follow their religious requirements, which, in some religious organizations could mean sending LGBT youth to so-called “conversion therapy,” a dangerous treatment that claims to change a person’s sexual orientation. Conversion therapy has been broadly condemned as psychologically damaging, particularly for youth, and has been outlawed in a number of states.
Basically if your faith says it’s okay, it’s okay, and Texas will continue supporting you.
“It’s about as limiting a bill as we have seem,” Terri Burke, executive director for ACLU Texas, told CNN.
“You say you have a sincerely held religious belief and you are a private adoption agency or private entity that helps place foster children — you can say you will not place that child with gay parents …. If I’m Catholic I can say I don’t want any Baptists to raise the child,” Burke said.
What’s incredible is how the sponsor of the bill, State Rep. James Frank, defended it:
“My guess is if you have an LGBT agency they’re going to pick an LGBT family, and if you have a Baptist agency they may be more likely to pick a Baptist family,” Frank told CBS. “They’re free to do that and should be free to do that.”
Everyone would discriminate if they had a chance, he argues…
Quick: Name an “LGBT” adoption agency. I dare you. It’s no surprise that Christians usually have the money and infrastructure necessary to run these sorts of agencies — and more power to them. But for the state to say they’ll help some of these groups while giving them permission to put their faith-based bigotry ahead of the needs of the children in their care is incredibly irresponsible.
The Texas House was supposed to vote on this bill on Saturday, but that was postponed to today. Given the GOP majorities in the House and Senate, this bill likely won’t be stopped by legislative means, but it may lead to a lawsuit if passed.
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