The Texas House of Representatives approved a measure that would allow foster care and adoption agencies to refuse placing children with same-sex couples based on religious objections.
The "Freedom to Serve Children Act," was approved by the GOP-controlled chamber by a vote of 94–51 on Tuesday. The House gave final approval of the measure on Wednesday, according to Fox 4.
The legislation would apply to both private and state-funded adoption agencies. Republican sponsors of the bill said that it is designed to shield the agencies from possible court fights.
Rep. James Frank of Wichita Falls said that his measure directs child services to ensure that other outside adoption providers without religious objections will be available to potential adoptive parents who were turned away by those who raise objections.
"We want to make reasonable accommodations so everyone can participate in the system," Frank said, according to The Associated Press. "Everyone is welcome. But you don't have to think alike to participate," he continued.
Rebecca Robertson, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas' legislative and policy director, pointed out that the state lacks other options because its only faith providers are Christian. She also asserted that the proposal violates the Constitution as it involves taxpayer money.
Gay rights groups and some foster families have expressed concern that they are unfairly targeted by the bill.
"Child welfare associations, psychological association, have shown that there is no harm done to children in same sex households, so what is the point of doing this? It's just blatant discrimination masked as something so precious and fundamental and precious as religious liberties and beliefs," said attorney Lorie Burch.
Proponents of the bill have contended that it would increase the pool of prospective adoptive and desperately-needed foster care families by allowing faith-based organizations to stay open and continue providing their services while upholding their religious principles.
Megan Lestino, vice-president of public policy for the National Adoption Council, said she knows about faith-based adoption agencies across the U.S. that have denied LGBT and other prospective parents. She noted that it upsets families, but she maintained that it does not violate the law unless the state does not present other options.
"Equal protection requires that there's another option for every family. And there typically is some option for every family," she said.