The Texas House State Affairs Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29), at 10:30 a.m. in Room 140 of the John H. Reagan Building, on HB 3859, which would allow child welfare providers that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBT families in foster care and adoptive placements.
So if you care about the well-being of children in the Texas foster care system and those up for adoption, and if you care about the rights LGBT Texans, you might want to think about heading to Austin tomorrow for that hearing.
The bill was introduced by Wichita Republican Rep. James Frank.
Ali Lozano, outreach and field coordinator for Texas Freedom Network, said that HB 3859 is one of “at least 17 bills” filed in this session of the Texas Legislature that would allow people to use their personal “religious beliefs” to discriminate against LGBT people.
“This is our first chance to reject this perversion of religious freedom,” Lozano said in an email message. “If we are going to stop this and other ‘religious refusal’ bills, we’ve got to turn out and resist in the same numbers and with the same fervor as we did for SB 6 (aka, the ‘bathroom bill’).”
Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith reiterated that urgency.
“Using religion to refuse service to LGBTQ people is discrimination,” Smith said in a separate email. “The primary consideration for a child welfare agency or organization and its employees should always be the best interests of the child — not advancing the interests or beliefs of a state contractor. HB 3859 would allow the religious beliefs of child-placing agencies to be placed above the needs of our most vulnerable children. That could jeopardize the health and well-being of children in our system.”
Smith also pointed out that HB 3859 would allow state contractors to discriminate against single or divorced people, interfaith couples people of different religious faiths or denominations.
“This is morally wrong and legally problematic,” Smith said, ending with a plea to those that oppose the bill to “come to the Capitol complex … and register in opposition to HB 3859.”
Go here to watch a short video on how to register in opposition to the bill.
Equality Texas offers these talking points for anyone interested in testifying against the bill.
This page allows you to rush a message to members of the State Affairs committee urging them to oppose HB 3859, and this one lets you send a message urging your representative to oppose all of the anti-LGBT religious refusal bills.