House Bill 3859, Religious Liberty for Adoption Agencies, passed the Texas Senate and House; and is awaiting signature by Governor Abbott during the Special Session of the legislature, due to commence, July 18th. The signing of HB 3859, among other things, will allow state funded adoption agencies to reject potential parents because of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. It also extends religious liberty protections to child welfare providers while caring for abused and neglected children in foster or Child Protective Services custody.
This bill has nothing to do with regulations already in place giving placement preference to families sharing the same faith; or other regulations pertaining to the continuation of a child’s birth religion when placement in a home observing a different faith. This law will BAN applicants of certain religions and sexual orientation from consideration. Period.
But, that’s not the end of it. If this bill is signed into law, and State funded adoption and foster care agencies are allowed to use religion and sexual orientation as a criteria for rejecting qualified applicants; then the next step will be to use religion and sexual orientation as a criteria for employment selection in positions that have responsibility for approving adoptions and/or foster care. To allow the hiring, or retention of, those of a faith or sexual orientation barred from adoption/foster care eligibility would create a significant conflict of interest within the agency.
This legislation goes beyond the realm of discrimination and sadly casts an ugly image on the great state of Texas. There are roughly 22,000 children in Texas awaiting placement in foster homes. This bill does nothing to protect the welfare of those children; all it does is sanction discrimination veiled behind the cloak of “religious freedom”. It is wrong and hypocritical to cite your right to “religious freedom” as justification for denying others the same right to practice their “sincerely held beliefs”.
Let’s not open this door that is so wrong and that will inevitably lead to employment discrimination. This is not who we are and it is not what we want to become. Please, please, write to Gov. Abbott and ask him NOT TO SIGN HB 3859 INTO LAW.
Bill and Elaine Allan