May 2017 Church & State | AU Bulletin

State legislators in South Dakota and Texas introduced bills that would allow broad discrimination against potential adoptive parents and children under the guise of religious freedom.

Texas’ HB 3859 would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare service providers to refuse to serve any child or family if doing so is contrary to the agency’s religious beliefs, creating a loophole for discrimination against same-sex couples, religious minority couples and others.

Texas’ House State Affairs Committee discussed the bill in a March 29 hearing but didn’t vote on it. Americans United wrote a letter to the committee urging its members to reject HB 3859 because it would allow taxpayer-funded discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs.

“Allowing government money to flow to these institutions is a clear violation of one of the central principles of our country’s constitutional order: the State may not aid discrimination,” the letter read.

AU also fought a similar bill, South Dakota’s SB 149, which allows child-welfare agencies in the state to discriminate in providing services to children in their care and against qualified prospective parents under the guise of religious freedom. Unfortunately, SB 149 was signed into law on March 10 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R).

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