The Texas Legislature made some waves earlier this month when the House sent the Senate a Bill about the rights of conscience in Child Welfare Services. It’s called HB 3859. This link goes to the text of the bill. The New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly, have written about it. Equality Texas is particularly opposed to it, saying the bill would trample the rights of Gay and Lesbian couples. ABC News complains loudly the bill could allow Texas Adoption Agencies to ban Jews, gays, and Muslims.
If you want to, take a few minutes and go to the link and read the bill for yourself. We won’t go away while you’re gone. We’ll still be here. We promise.
Are you done reading, yet? Good. The whole Bill is about four pages long in 10 point font, a little longer if I make the writing bigger for old eyes. The Texas Legislature isn’t like Congress in that respect. Congress likes bills hundreds of pages long, or even thousands, written in complex legalese that require a JD to even pronounce the words. The Texas Legislature drafts short bills in plane understandable language.
Does the text contain the name of any religion? It does not. Does it specifically call out gay, lesbian, transgendered children or couples? It does not.
Then what does it do? This bill simply protects the right of conscience of any private agency that works in child welfare.
- If there were a Muslim Adoption Agency in Irving, Texas, that wanted to ensure Sunni couples adopted Sunni children and Shi’a couples adopted Shi’a children, they would be protected.
- If there were an LGBT organization in Austin that wanted to step up and make sure LGBT kids get placed with LGBT families, as long as they have a religious explanation, they would be protected.
- I dare say, that a Child Welfare Agency full of Secular Humanists who refused adoptions to Christians would also be protected by this law, as long as they explained their position in religious terms and referred them to another agency.
What this Bill actually does is protect everyone’s right of conscience. I expect that if it were to become law and be challenged in court, it would even protect Atheists who have religious reasons to keep Christians from adopting. The bill would require any agency refusing services on religious grounds to refer those seeking services to another agency that would help them, or to the Texas Department of Child and Family Services.
What this Bill doesn’t do is allow anyone to use threat of law suit or government force to coerce someone else to violate sincerely held beliefs. Don’t we need more of that? Don’t we as a society want more protection for all sincerely held beliefs, even if those beliefs aren’t exactly the same as anyone else’s? Don’t we want more liberty and less coercion?
On thing we do need to ensure is that while Texas is requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the Legislature and State Agencies make adoptions easier and less expensive. Not harder.
If we’re truly pursuing Virtue here, then we need to make it easier for couples (or singles) who would nurture children and help them flourish to adopt, regardless of creed, belief or religion. As a society we should keep children out of the hands of the violent and the abusive regardless of creed, belief or religion.
Thank you for reading. We do appreciate you. If you liked (or hated) what you read here, please tell your friends and click the follow button.
And lest I forget, these views are my own and I’m not writing here to represent the Texas Military Department, the Texas National Guard, the U. S. Army or the DoD. All these organizations have Public Affairs Offices and spokespeople who should not be confused with me.