Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 3859 into law today. HB 3859 will allow Texas adoption and foster care agencies to claim religious objection to certain groups, without fear of losing state funding. This law will restrict adoption and fostering opportunities for LGBTQ, single men and women, or non-Christian parents, and could allow child welfare services to send foster children to anti-gay “conversion therapy. This law will actually make Christianity the “State Religion” as seen by Governor Abbott and so many religious right Republicans.
Texas partners with hundreds of private adoption and foster agencies, some who receive state funding. HB 3859 will allow these agencies to claim religious exemption (Christian) to working with LGBTQ parents or parents of another religion (which is religious discrimination) without fear of losing their funding. Making this legal now makes these groups or organizations exempt from being sued for discrimination.
Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign stated “The bill would allow discrimination on the basis of religious belief. An organization that receives taxpayer funds and provides services on behalf of taxpayers of Texas can turn potential parents away because those parents have religious disagreement with them.”
This law will also allow child welfare organizations to regulate foster care that is in line with their religious beliefs. If teenagers in foster care were sexually active care providers could decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for abortions, contraceptives, or drugs, devices, or services that are potentially abortion-inducing. So, a care provider can claim religious exemption and not provide condoms or birth control. In the case of transgender children, who might need counseling as they go through this process, they can be denied access by the agencies involved.
Foster care groups can now also require that children in their care follow their religious beliefs and law. As recently aired in a “20 20” episode conversion therapy is outdated and actually is no longer recognized as a form of treatment for LGBTQ youth. However, now under HB 3859 any child in the welfare system of foster care can be sent to a “Conversion Therapy Camp” against their will.
Texas is not thinking what’s best for the children up for adoption or foster care. Sadly this will harm children and keep them out of adoptive homes and left in the child welfare system. Texas follows suit with the same forms of discrimination that have already passed in Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia.
Religious Exemption Discrimination is becoming more common in many states and being allowed to become part of the “New Normal”! We must all come together now and fight back against these laws.