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Texas House OKs giving adoption agencies 'religious refusal'

12 May 2017
Texas House OKs giving adoption agencies 'religious refusal'

House Bill 3859, also known as the "Freedom to Serve Children Act" is similar to legislation passed in other states.

Criticism is mounting against a Texas bill that would empower adoption providers to reject potential parents who conflict with their religious beliefs. And, even these five states are also willing to grant these laws in their states as well, shortly, if it is good for the state, but these states support the protecting laws of faith-based adoption agencies implemented in Texas.

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.

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

FILE - In this January 10, 2017, file photo, Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, stands before the opening of the 85th Texas Legislative session in the house chambers at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

The Texas bill also includes provisions that let adoption and foster care agencies refuse to provide or facilitate abortion services and contraception to teens under their care.

This would have serious consequences for a range of vulnerable communities, including young people and families. 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. They add those looking to adopt can simply work with another agency, but those against it believe the bill is state-sponsored discrimination.

The Associated Press reported Saturday the legislation would make Texas the second state in the country to protect state-funded adoption agencies that discriminate against applicants for ostensibly religious reasons.

At a committee hearing on the bill in March, representatives from several religiously aligned groups testified that without the protections provided by the bill, they will be forced to shut down their foster care or adoption programs.

HB 3859 was passed along largely party lines in a 93-49 vote, with three Democrats joining Republican lawmakers in voting for the bill.

Abbott has declared fixing child protective services a priority in the face of rising investigator caseloads and child deaths.

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said the proposed measure violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it does not treat all families and children who need child welfare services equally.

"It is extremely important that we know what's happening with these children", Howard said. There are now 17 pending bills that encourage discrimination in the Texas Legislature, according to the ACLU.

The bill allows Texas to license two family lockdowns, despite court rulings that say such facilities don't meet requirements to care for kids.