As I stated in my May 15th article Help stop these radical religious bills from becoming law in Texas, “If HB 3859 passes in the Senate it will be the first religious exemption bill to pass in Texas allowing discrimination and could restrict adoption and fostering opportunities for LGBTQ people, single men and women, non-Christian parents, or mixed-race couples and could allow child welfare services to send foster children to anti-gay “conversion therapy”. (link)
This morning this bill was signed and sent on to Governor Abbott’s desk where it will be signed into law. HB 3859 does not represent “Religious Exemption” it allows “Legal Religious Discrimination.” House Bill 3859 )link) would allow faith-based organizations to place a child in a religion-based school; deny referrals for abortions and contraceptives, drugs or devices; and refuse to contract with other organizations that don’t share their religious beliefs. If a faith-based group refuses services to children or prospective homes on religious grounds, they would not be required to refer the child or parent to a different organization that can help them.
The amended version of HB 3859 would read as follows: CSHB 3859 would add a new chapter to the Human Resources Code entitled Protection of Rights of Conscience for Child Welfare Services Providers. The stated legislative intent of the chapter would be to maintain a diverse network of service providers that offered a range of foster capacity options and that accommodated children from various cultural backgrounds. The intent would state that decisions regarding the placement of children would continue to be made in the best interest of the child and which person would be able to provide for the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development. This actually translates as a revised version of the bill what will now allow for religious discrimination in every aspect of the new law.
So in this current 85th legislative session Republicans have passed the “Sanctuary City-Show Me Your Papers” law which has already been signed by Gov. Abbott. They have also passed HB 3859 which has been sent to Governor Abbott’s desk and will be signed sometime today or this week. And now the Texas Legislators have passed SB 2708 link) which will keep transgender students from using the restroom and locker room that matches their gender identity in public schools.
This 85th session of the Texas Legislature has been the most “Anti-Session” that Texas has ever seen. It’s been anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women’s rights, anti-trans youth, anti-latino, anti-sanctuary cities, anti-public school funding, anti-any religion other than Christianity and anti-equality for all. The list just goes on and on.
As the session winds down in the last 6 days I truly hope we as Democrats have learned a few things. I hope we have learned to never be complacent, never assume a candidate will win, get up off your sofa and campaign for local to national candidates. We will never take back the house and senate in Texas or Washington D.C. without every one of us taking responsibility and fighting every day to win back the rights and policies turned over by Governor Abbott and Trump’s administrations. We must fight to keep Medicaid to help those in need. We must fight to keep healthcare. We must fight for our privacy and we must fight for the compassion and empathy that only Democrats share. And we must vote in the midterm elections.
With these new discriminatory laws, Texas and Governor Abbott will be faced with lawsuits from the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, Texas Freedom Network, the city of Austin and Mayor Adler, Lambda Legal, LULAC and so many other organizations and individual citizens. All of these laws will hopefully end up being blocked by Federal judges like those that blocked Trump’s travel bans. As we’ve seen recently with rulings in North Carolina and Texas, federal judges have ruled on the right side of history to overturn gerrymandering and voter suppression laws that favor the GOP.
I know this sounds trite but in the end good will triumph over evil. It’s time for Texas Democrats to take back the state and prove that Texas is not about discrimination but about love, compassion and inclusion.There’s no room for hate in the lone star state!