Gay rights groups and some foster families worry they're being unfairly targeted by a state adoption bill passed Wednesday by Texas House lawmakers.
The Republican author of the bill says it's not meant to be exclusionary, but others say it's simply taxpayer-funded discrimination. The Texas House gave the bill final approval on Wednesday.
Misti Knight is active in the LBGT community and is a foster mom to a three-year-old boy with special needs. She says she was his last hope.
“He was supposed to spend a few weeks in the shelter because they couldn’t' find a place for him to go,” Knight said. “He has autism and they really struggled to find a placement for him and then they found me.”
House Bill 3859, also known as the Freedom To Serve Children Act, allows foster care and adoption agencies -- both private and state-funded -- to refuse placing children in certain households based on religious objections.
“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.
Supporters of the bill, like the Plano-based Liberty Institute, say it protects religious freedom and increases the pool of prospective adoptive and desperately-needed foster care families by allowing faith-based organizations to stay in business and continue providing services while upholding their religious principles.
Others say it's begs more questions than offers answers.
“Who's defining what religious views that you are imposing for a decision as critical as where a foster child is being placed?” Burch asked.
Five Democrats voted for the bill, including Nicole Collier of Fort Worth. Two Republicans voted against it, including Jason Villalba of Dallas. The bill now heads to the Texas Senate.