News Brief: Texas Likely to Pass "Religious Refusal" Bill

Texas's Senate passed a bill that would allow publicly funded foster and adoption agencies to refuse to place children in homes that don't align with an agency's religious beliefs.

the Texas Senate, which recently passed a bill allowing publicly funded adoption agencies from discriminating based on religion

On May 22, Texas’s Senate passed a bill that would allow foster and adoption agencies that receive public funding to refuse to place children in homes that don’t align with the agency’s religious beliefs, including same-sex families, single parents, or families of a different religion. It is expected that Texas Governor Greg Abbott will sign the bill into law.

Proponents of the bill, such as Texas Senator Charles Perry, claim that “it doesn’t establish one faith over another” and that it will allow more religiously affiliated agencies to operate, but opponents criticize the bill as funding discrimination with taxpayers’ money and denying countless children the opportunity for a stable, loving home. Human Rights Campaign legislative counsel Catherine Oakley has said, “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. This goes against the best interest of the child.”

This “religious refusal” bill follows several similar bills recently passed by states including South Dakota and Alabama. On April 4, 2017, a similar bill, the “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act” (H.R. 1881; S. TK) was introduced at a federal level by Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). On May 24, 2017, however, Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” (H.R. 2640), which would prohibit any child welfare agencies that receive federal funds from discriminating against potential families on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

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