The Texas House on Tuesday passed HB 3829, which legalizes discrimination against prospective LGBTQ adoptive parents and foster caregivers. The bill also allows faith-based adoption agencies to reject applications from Jewish, Muslim and interfaith couples.
Under House Bill 3859, which advanced on a 94-51 vote, providers would be protected from legal retaliation if they assert their “sincerely held religious beliefs” while caring for abused and neglected children. The measure would allow them to place a child in a religion-based school; deny referrals for abortion-related contraceptives, drugs or devices; and refuse to contract with other organizations that don’t share their religious beliefs.
Rep. James Frank, the Wichita Falls Republican who authored the bill and an adoptive father, said repeatedly during a lengthy debate Tuesday that his legislation is not meant to be exclusionary but to give providers some certainty when it comes to legal disputes. He described opposition to the bill as “fabricated hysteria.”
Today, HRC called out the Texas House of Representatives for passing HB 3859, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations — including adoption and foster care agencies — to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents and children in need of a loving, secure home. It could also lead to concrete harm to children in care; it would forbid the state from cancelling a state contract with an agency that subjected children in their care to dangerous practices such as so-called “conversion therapy.” HB 3859 is just the latest bill in a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills being pursued by the Texas legislature, which is undertaking a systematic effort to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Texans, piece by piece.
“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 Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, and an adoptive and foster parent. “If signed into law, this bill would most harm the children in Texas’ child welfare system — kids who need a loving, stable home. Discrimination under law is unacceptable. The Senate must recognize this bill for what it is: an attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans, this time targeting some of Texas’ most vulnerable residents: children in the child welfare system.”
HB 3859 would enshrine discrimination into Texas law by allowing discrimination in two directions: against prospective parents, and against children in their care. It would allow state contractors who provide child welfare services to discriminate against qualified same-sex couples who want to adopt. HB 3859 would allow child-placing agencies to turn away qualified Texans seeking to care for a child in need — including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.