LGBT parents set to be denied the right to adopt children
LGBT parents could be legally denied the right to adopt children simply because of their sexuality.
A bill set to be raised today in Texas would give state-run agencies, as well as private companies, the ability to refuse people on a broad range of discriminatory bases.
The wording of the bill, ironically named the Freedom to Serve Children Act, allows authorities to decline services to individuals based on “the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
This means that on the grounds of religious freedom, prospective parents could be turned away because they’re LGBT, Jewish, Muslim, single or part of an interfaith couple.
If it passes, the bill – also known as House Bill 3859 – “would allow child welfare service providers that contract with the state to use taxpayer money to discriminate against LGBT individuals and families,” said ACLU of Texas.
The organisation’s executive director, Terri Burke, said: “It’s about as limiting a bill as we have seen,” in a statement to CNN.
Burke added that this bill becoming law would mean that if “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”.
The second most populous state in the US could be set to follow the example of Alabama – which created the same exemption for agencies last week – and South Dakota, which signed a similar bill into law in March.
South Dakota’s Senate Bill 149 allows agencies to refuse to provide services if their objections are based on religious or moral convictions.
It has put LGBT youth at risk and placed the ability of LGBT people looking to adopt or foster children in jeopardy.
The Texas bill’s author, Representative James Frank, said new protections were needed for the 25% of state child welfare providers which are faith-based.
Frank’s office told CNN that “HB 3859 protects the rights of the faith-based organisations to exercise their religious mission to serve others without fear of retaliation.”
But Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said the only rights which would be affected by the law would be those of the children involved.
“This would allow adoption agencies to turn away qualified, loving parents who are perhaps perfect in every way because the agency has a difference in religious belief,” she told Huff Post.
“This goes against the best interest of the child.”
Not only that, but Texas is federally mandated to treat everyone the same by the Constitution, she pointed out.
“As a governmental entity, Texas is bound to treat people equally under the law.
“This is a violation of equal protection under the law.”