When I read that legislation was under consideration in three states (Texas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota) that would allow for legal discrimination against non-Christian, non-heterosexual couples in their pursuit of adoption, I was incensed. Texas House Bill 3859 passed last week, giving child welfare organizations—including foster care and adoption agencies—a green light to reject prospective LGBTQ parents. Much like President Trump’s recent Executive Order on religious liberty, there are several aspects of the bill that are illegal and will (hopefully) be denounced as unconstitutional.
Moreover, such legislation is morally reprehensible. Children in foster care deserve nothing less than a loving family and a stable home, yet Christian legislators insist on preventing loving couples from adopting the nearly 100,000 children waiting for adoption. Why? Because these couples aren’t straight or Christian. Even the National Review, the “bastion” of intellectual conservatism, stated: “theoretically, [it] would empower a Baptist-affiliated adoption agency to refuse to place a child in a Muslim home.” Yet they still back it, equating adoption agencies having to comply with equality as them being forced soldiers in a “culture war.”
In a state where over 75 percent of residents are Christian, a large portion of funds make their way to Christian adoption agencies, whereas minority religious (or a-religious) adoption agencies face an uphill battle to survive. In my research, no private adoption agencies exist in Texas that are controlled by marginalized religious communities. Christian contractors have in the past also displayed disgusting prejudice against African Americans.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, HB 3859 also forbids “the state from cancelling a contract with an agency that subjected children in their care to dangerous practices such as so-called ‘conversion therapy.’” After vetting families, agencies would be free to categorize conversion therapy under “wholesome Christian values,” despite statements by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American College of Physicians, American Counseling Association, and dozens more that conversion therapy is harmful and may be considered abuse in many circumstances. But hey, it’s far more important for Christian adoption agencies to have the right to discriminate against those pesky loving same-sex couples than for them to actually care about the children, right?
Here in the United States we like to say we stand up for the Constitution. Before me, three generations of my family served this country in varying capacities, swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This document has inspired many countries to follow suit and adopt similar measures protecting their citizens. Back in the 1600s, marginalized religious communities fled Europe seeking refuge in the United States and found themselves in need of cohabitation. This was so entrenched in early American ideals that it became codified into law, where Americans were free to pursue, or to not pursue religion as they please. I’ve come to know several people who were adopted, all of whom agree that adoption isn’t a partisan issue; a loving family is a loving family regardless of whether it’s a same-sex family, a family that has a different faith than Christianity, or a family that holds no faith at all. Of the 400,000 children in foster care, over 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted. Studies have shown that, contrary to what conservative Christians have argued for years, children do not need strictly a “mother and a father.” Instead, children require a loving family—be it a single parent household, a heterosexual family, a same-sex family, or a family of varying faiths.
Conservative outlets like the National Review, in their defense of Texas’s disastrous House Bill 3859, state that “would-be adoptive parents go to the ends of the earth to adopt children,” even citing gross racism as a current preventative barrier to adoption for American parents. This begs the question: If barriers for adoption for 400,000 children are so encumbering, then why are you raising those barriers for children to be adopted? Why highlight the amount of children in need of adoption, and highlight disgusting racist principles that led to a “lost generation,” only to fail to learn your own lesson, and thus make it harder for children to be adopted? What if a homosexual child were adopted by a Christian family and then forced to acquiesce to conversion therapy, and then later wanted to adopt a child, but was denied on the grounds of his or her sexual orientation?
These are all questions that the religious right have failed to answer in a half-baked bill that does nothing but allow for the lawful discrimination of non-Christian, non-heterosexual couples who want nothing more than to provide a safe, loving home for one of the 100,000 children currently waiting to be adopted. It’s time for the legislators in Texas to take a step back and ask themselves: Is what I’m doing best for children in foster care? Or is it best for Evangelical Christians who want nothing more than to rub their noses in the faces of marginalized communities once more. If your answer is the latter there are 400,000 children eager to see your resignation.