Last month, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 3859, a bill allowing adoption, foster care, and family planning agencies that receive state funding or are privately owned to legally discriminate against prospective families. If the bill is signed into law, Texas would not be able to take action against an agency or its workers for acting on their religious beliefs in the form of withholding state funds, redirecting grant money, or any other type of adverse action.
This bill has widespread consequences with broad scope; it does not only apply to religious organizations but any agency claiming to have religious beliefs. Many communities could also be affected, including same-sex couples, Jewish couples, Muslim couples, single women, unmarried couples, divorced people, and people of other faiths. If passed, it would shield agencies from any liability for discrimination and ultimately harm children who may not be placed with a family.
Texas already grants religious agencies the right to discriminate against prospective adoptive clients. As an example, one Christian family services agency only considers adoptive parents if they attend church once a week and have been married for at least two years while another only allows heterosexual couples or single adults.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, there are now 22,000 children already waiting for placement in the state.