Governor Greg Abbot recently signed into law a controversial piece of family law legislation that features a number of potentially tricky legal implications. The bill allows for faith-based organizations that work in conjunction with Texas’s child welfare system to deny service to individuals or families “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Proponents of the bill claim that the new law preserves the rights of organizations to remain true to their “closely held religious beliefs” while still providing alternatives for families or individuals who find themselves denied service. According to supporters, the bill includes language that allows the state to direct those who are refused service to other service providers who will work with them.
However, the law is already coming under fire, most notably from California, which has suspended the use of certain state funds to pay for state agency representatives to travel to Texas. Many of the law’s detractors point to the potential conflicts in which an organization receiving state funding may discriminate against individuals on a religious basis. Because many of the organizations that partner with Texas’s child welfare system identify as Christian organizations, some parties worry that they may continue to accept state funding or tax incentives while refusing to serve individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, or those who practice another religion.
If you have concerns about how this new law may affect your plans to adopt or care for a child, you should consult with an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of Texas family law. With proper legal counsel, you can effectively pursue fair treatment within the child welfare and adoption system, and ensure that your rights as an individual remain protected.
Source: Reuters, “Texas governor approves adoption bill that critics contend discriminates,” June 22, 2017