A new Texas law will let child welfare providers deny adoptions and other services to parents and children based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3859 into law earlier this week, allowing faith-based adoption and foster child placement agencies to refuse families based on religion, the Texas Tribune reports.
Child welfare providers can now use their “sincerely held religious beliefs” to determine which homes and services to assign foster and adoptive children. Under the law, those who are refused services on religious grounds must be referred to a different organization.
Lawmakers who support the legislation claim that it will protect religious freedom and the state’s large number of faith-based child welfare organizations. Critics of the law argue that it will allow those agencies to discriminate against non-Christian and LGBT families, putting the needs of faith-based agencies over those of vulnerable children.
“This law was never about the best interests of Texans or of children, but about forwarding a political agenda to codify the permission to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans into state law,” says GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “Discrimination has won in Texas, and it saddens me that a child can now be denied the chance to live with a deserving family simply because they are LGBTQ.”
Similar discriminatory legislation has been passed in Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, and Alabama.