Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Texas Legislature Passes Conscience Protections For Adoption, Foster Care, Counseling Services

The Texas legislature yesterday gave final passage to HB 3859 (full text), a bill that prohibits any governmental agency from discriminating or taking adverse action against a child welfare service provider that refuses to provide adoption, foster care, counseling or other services that conflict with the agency's religious beliefs.  The bill, which now goes to the governor for signature, also protects agencies that place children with providers who will give the children a religious education. Where an agency refuses to serve a client, it must refer the client to, or to a listing of, other agencies that can serve them.  AP, reporting on the bill, says:
The private foster care and adoption organizations, which are paid by the state to place children with families, make up about 25 percent of the agencies working in Texas. Those groups say they face a threat of lawsuits for exercising their religious beliefs if they don’t get specific state legal protection.  Many Texas adoption agencies admit they don’t work with adoptive parents who are single, gay or non-Christian, and the bill could keep them from being sued.
[Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]