SAN ANTONIO - A House bill proposed in the Texas Legislature would allow some state-funded and private adoption agencies to turn away prospective parents based on their religious beliefs.
Some are calling it discrimination, while others say it will actually help the foster care system.
As it stands now if two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate vote in favor of the bill, it will go into effect immediately. But if not, it would be up for a vote, and if the majority of both the House and Senate approve the bill and the governor gives the green light, it goes into effect September 1st.
"When you break that down it appears to be a thinly veiled free pass to discriminate on the basis of religion." Attorney Kevin Sralla said.
Sralla owns Sralla-Sralla Law Offices-San Antonio Family Law which has facilitated between 50 and 100 adoptions.
He said the bill is a sign of the times.
"It's not surprising to me that this sort of bill would come to the floor of the state legislature given our current political climate, Sralla said.
The bill would protect adoption providers from punishment by the government if they decline to facilitate adoptions to prospective parents because of their religion and/or sexual orientation.
The San Antonio Family Association says in no way is this bill discrimination.
"You're basically labeling religious freedom as discrimination and we've always allowed religious freedom and people to operate their businesses or ministries or faith-based organizations from their religious standpoint." Brad Wheeler with San Antonio Family Association said.
Representative James Frank said the bill is designed to address the state's foster care crisis by making "reasonable accommodations so everyone can participate in the system. Everyone is welcome. But you don't have to think alike to participate."
Sralla said the bill takes us back to the civil rights era.
"There was a time in our country when private restaurant owners and service providers could deny services to an individual based on the color of their skin." Sralla said.
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