Texas adoption agencies could ban Jews, gays, Muslims

2017-05-06 23:09
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Austin - Parents seeking to adopt children in Texas could soon be rejected by public or private agencies with religious objections to them being Jewish, Muslim, gay, single, or interfaith couples, under a proposal advancing in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Five other states have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption organisations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds, but Texas' rule extends to state-funded agencies. Only South Dakota's is similar.

Government entity

Republican sponsors of  the Texas' bill, which is poised to pass in the state House, say it is designed to support the religious freedom of adoption agencies and foster care providers.

But opponents say it robs children of stable homes while funding discrimination with taxpayer dollars.

"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," said Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. "This goes against the best interest of the child".

The bill also blatantly violates the Constitution, Oakley added.

"As a governmental entity, Texas is bound to treat people equally under the law," said Oakley. "This is a violation of equal protection under the law".

State Rep James Frank, the bill's author, said it's designed to address the state's foster care crisis by making "reasonable accommodations so everyone can participate in the system.

"Everyone is welcome. But you don't have to think alike to participate," said Frank, a Republican from rural Wichita Falls, near Texas' border with Oklahoma.

Conversion therapy

Suzanne Bryant, an Austin-based adoption attorney who works with LGBT clients and was one of the first individuals to have a legal same-sex marriage in Texas, said the bill fails to provide alternatives for prospective parents rebuffed by adoption agencies.

"Say you call an agency and say, 'I'm Jewish,' and it's a Catholic agency and they hang up on you," said Bryant. "The bill says you can be referred to another agency, but there's no mechanism to set that up".

Not only could agencies turn away hopeful parents under the religious freedom provision, but they could require children in the foster care system to comply with their faith-based requirements, said Bryant.

That means child welfare organisations could send LGBT kids to conversion therapy, a treatment designed to turn people straight - which the Pan American Health Organisation calls a "serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people." And they could deny young people contraception and abortions.

More than 100 children died in Texas child protective services last year alone, when a judge had already ruled that the system violated youngsters' constitutional rights by leaving them more troubled when they left the system than when they entered it. Republican Gov Greg Abbott made fixing foster care an "emergency" priority and the legislature has increased funding while backing a number of major changes.

Frank said most adoptions happen through the state's Child Protective Services, which would not be subject to the religious freedom mandate, though outside agencies that receive state funding would be. He said his bill "codifies" the choices adoption agencies are already making as they select parents.


Read more on:    us

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

For the love of Corgis!

If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us!

 
 

Paws

Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.