Rep. Scott Sanford (above) has introduced a measure — similar to a proposal in Florida — that would allow child welfare providers to discriminate based on "sincerely held religious beliefs."
The Texas Observer reports:
On Wednesday, Sanford told a House committee that in some states where same-sex marriage is legal, organizations such as Catholic Charities have shut down rather than comply with laws barring discrimination against gay couples.
“Faith-based organizations have played a vital role in serving our nation’s orphaned and needy children since America’s founding, and this legislation protects their operations,” Sanford said. “States without these protective measures have had organizations cease to operate, placing more demand on government.”
HB 3864, which Sanford is calling the “Hope for Orphans and Minors Expansion Act,” or HOME, would prohibit the state from taking “adverse action” against child welfare providers that receive taxpayer dollars and act based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” It would also protect the rights of state-funded agencies to provide religious education to children and to deny them access to abortions or birth control.
Opponents of the bill say it would also allow discrimination against LGBT youth in foster care. For example, a faith-based agency could force them into reparative therapy.
A representative from the office of Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) testified in support of the bill, saying that like bans on cell phone use while driving, nondiscrimination laws are an example of government overreach. One tea party lawmaker on the committee — Rep. Debbie Riddle — called the bill "fabulous" and repeatedly told supportive witnesses from Christian groups they were "doing the Lord's work."
Meanwhile, in Florida, a similar proposal that died in the Senate last week has been resurrected and will be voted on Monday, according to Equality Florida.
The Human Rights Campaign and five leading national child welfare organizations issued a joint statement Thursday opposing the anti-LGBT adoption measures in Florida, Texas and other states. From HRC's release:
Organizations that signed the statement, in addition to HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association. …
“We, as organizations dedicated to serving the best interests and well-being of children and youth, are deeply concerned about the spate of anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced in state legislatures around the country this year,” the statement says, “including measures that would allow discrimination in adoption and foster care, criminalize transgender people who attempt to use restrooms, and, under the guise of religious liberty, give service providers the power to deny child welfare services to the very people who need our care the most.”
Finally, in related news, a Texas Democrat delivered impassioned remarks on the House floor this week in support of a separate proposal to allow same-sex parents to have both names on the birth certificates of adopted children.
Watch state Rep. Rafael Anchia's speech, AFTER THE JUMP …