Will we let them do this?

I refer frequently to the sheer audacity of today’s right-wingers, and readers who are somewhat to the right tell me to stop being hysterical, that the radical ideas come from a few extremists. But that simply isn’t true; they are the legislators themselves.

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill banning homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals from being foster parents.

If the bill gains approval from the Texas Senate, the state will be allowed to investigate the backgrounds of current foster parents and remove children living in non-heterosexual households.

All future foster parents will be required to disclose their sexual preference on an application form, a legislative aide said.

The move was denounced by local activists.

“More than 43,000 gay and lesbian couples in Texas are forming families and raising children, and this attack on LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered) Texans will tear apart our families and remove our children from loving, stable families,” the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas said in a statement.

“In an already over-burdened foster care system, the effect of reducing the pool of foster parents does nothing to protect Texas children,” it added.

Outrage, anyone? Gay people who want to be foster parents are being treated like Jews in Nazi Germany. What’s the rationale? What’s the benefit? How does this make us appear in the eyes of the world? Who is protected and how is society improved?

People, please wake up. We aren’t talking about a few kooks who are using hyperbole. This is legislation. These loonies hold real power and can write real laws and deprive real people of children.

At first I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read this. Then, I recalled an NPR story on Texas Republicans that included a tape of of their breakfast meeting. I was literally scared to death. They started with a group prayers, everyone shouting out, speaking in tongues, interjecting “Praise God” and “Bless President Bush” and sounding generally like a church congregation on LSD. Then I realized, it really was possible. The Texas Republican Party, having morphed into an evangelical country club, is capable of committing atrocities in the name of a God who would recoil in horror at such prejudice.

Those under the influence of fundamentalist ideals, be they Islamic, Christian, Jewish or what have you, have a history of doing awful things in the name of their God. If we shrug and say, “Oh, they’re just a bunch of radicals who can be controlled,” we’re making the same mistake van Papen and Schleicher did in 1932. We’ll have only ourselves to blame. Please, don’t just write these people off as harmless fools. They are anything but.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

I’ve started to chalk things like this up to the blanket statement: “It’s Texas.” That explains rather well many of the things they do down there.

On the positive side, there’s no way this kind of thing could make it in the courts. It’s blatantly unconstitutional. Even if it did manage to be passed (which wouldn’t surprise me at all … after all, it’s Texas), someone would take it to court and it would get struck down.

At least, that’s what I hope. If it manages to stick, that’s when there’s a problem.

April 20, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

Texas is at it again

They just don’t give up against those danged homos do they? As if they didn’t learn from Lawrence vs. Texas . Sigh. The Peking Duck: Will we let them do this?…

April 20, 2005 @ 7:03 pm | Comment

I was under the impression that in most US states it is either not possible or very difficult for gay or lesbian couples to adopt a child. Is this not correct? I know there is a difference between actually adopting a child and just being foster parents but this doesn’t reallly seem that surprising.

April 20, 2005 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

Doesn’t seem to be that surprising? NO state in the history of America has EVER had such discriminatory language in its state laws, at least not until the recent new laws banning gay marriage. The only reason it’s not surprising is that it’s from Texas, the state that brought us Tom Delay and Enron and an orgy of executions and George W. I guess we should expect them to come up with atrocities like this. But it is extremely unusual legislation and no other state to my knowledge has adopted measures that even come close in terms of blatant discrimination.

April 20, 2005 @ 7:30 pm | Comment

Justin, I appreciate your intelligent comment, and yes, the Supreme Court wouldn’t allow it to fly — as long as it’s not packed with Bush appointees. We have to make it clear to the complacent ones who insist this is nothing to worry about that with just a couple of appointments, laws like this could indeed be passed. And then we’ll really see the fun begin as creationists win equal time in our biology textbooks and gays are forced to wear pink triangles.

April 20, 2005 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

Again, I’m a little ignorant on the subject but I thought gay and lesbian couples are prevented from adopting children in most states already. Is this not true?

April 20, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

Not that I’ve ever heard of . If so, texas would have done this ages ago, and there would be no controversy.

April 20, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

Hui Mao, it would be interesting to find out how many states have similar rulings. I can’t say.

And Richard, re harmless fools, we have fools of all flavors in the legislature, some harmful and some not. I couldn’t care less if those goony birds speak in tongues or have sex with chickens on their own time, but I do care what laws they pass. The constitution should take care of most of the silliness, but it often takes years to settle a constitutional case.

There’s a strong case here for a very strict interpretation of the Constitution; I hope no one is missing this. The gun-controllers, for example, might want to settle for some losses if the benefit is that OTHER amendments also don’t get stretched to suit the party in power. Know what I mean?

Loosening the “big 10” can mean you have to have a PhD in social responsibility to carry a gun, AND that you have to be a straight married Baptist to adopt a child. It’s a bad, bad tradeoff.

April 20, 2005 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Sam, we’re in agreement on this one.

April 20, 2005 @ 9:50 pm | Comment

we’re in agreement on this one

Not surprising. I’m in the “shot by both sides” party, you know. I’m required to wear a black flag in Texas, and a skull-and-crossbones in Massachusetts.

ACB, would you please mail me privately at the linked address?

April 20, 2005 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

Okay, found a link with some information on the legal status of gay and lesbian adoptions

April 20, 2005 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

From the link above:

Florida and New Hampshire have laws forbidding adoption by homosexuals;
Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and Virginia have legal precedences in which courts ruled that gays and lesbians are automatically unfit as parents.
California, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey have laws or regulations which specifically permit homosexual adoption.
The remaining 40 states and the District of Columbia have no laws either forbidding or permitting adoption by gays or lesbians individuals or couples.

So I guess I was wrong about most states banning gay and lesbian adoption.

April 20, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

I just searched info on gay adoption and I discovered something. Try typing in “gay marriage” in google search, there are a lot of outrageus sites there. Right wingers are trying to convince people that gay marriage will lead to the utter destruction of America. No kidding, just try it. There are hundreds of anti-gay sites. One article was written by a person with PhD but the arguments lame and ridiculous nevertheless. It is sad when intelligent people choose to be ignorant and stupid.

April 21, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

“Florida and New Hampshire have laws forbidding adoption by homosexuals”

Florida is notorious, there was a Diane Sawyer special years ago about the broken Florida gay adoption system which forced a gay couple to give up the sick abandoned children from their family.

April 21, 2005 @ 12:54 am | Comment

On the argument that there are a lot of states that ban adoption by gay people:
From my point of view there is a slight difference in banning adoption, and investigating “the backgrounds of current foster parents and remove children living in non-heterosexual households.”
That not only would tear apart famalies, the state also would have the right to snoop around peoples most private matters. Thats scary!

April 21, 2005 @ 3:51 am | Comment

Meanwhile, of course, the fundie froot-loops ALSO want to ban abortion and contraception.

More babies + fewer people to care for them. What could possibly go wrong?

April 21, 2005 @ 5:45 am | Comment

JR, notice the line I highlighted in bold. That’s the part that really horrified me. Honestly, I don’t know much about the 50 states’ individual adoption rights. I do know this story was controversial enough that it was listed No. 1 on Drudge for a while yesterday.

April 21, 2005 @ 8:17 am | Comment


“Gay people who want to be foster parents are being treated like Jews in Nazi Germany.”

Really? Gay foster parents are being shipped to death camps and exterminated? Who knew?


“On the positive side, there’s no way this kind of thing could make it in the courts. It’s blatantly unconstitutional.”

You are wrong. It’s more likely than not that such a law would survive a court challenge.

First, sexual preference is not expressly protected under any provision of the constitution.

Second, state laws based upon sexual preference, unlike, e.g., race and religion, have never been subject to “strict scrutiny” under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the equal protection clause (indeed, even laws discriminating by gender don’t get “strict scrutiny”, they only get what is known as “intermediate scrutiny”).

Laws discriminating on the basis of sexual preference must merely pass the least stringent “rational basis” test (i.e., is there any rational basis for the law). You may not think there is any rational basis for this particular law, but there is no Supreme Court precedent on point and there is some lower court precedent that indicates that such a law does have a rational basis. Furthermore, in January of this year the Supreme Court refused to review Florida’s law banning all homosexual adoption.

Since we’re talking about foster parenting (which is viewed as interim and an arm of the state child welfare system) and not adoption (which is familial) it is very unlikely that: (a) the Supreme Court would dissallow discrimination regarding foster parenting while allowing discrimination in adption or (b) find any consititutional right of privacy infringed by the law.

In short, the law is not “blatently unconstitutional”. It’s likely that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Texas) would uphold the law and that the Supreme Court would decline to hear the case, meaning the law would stand.

Personally, a blanket bar on gay and lesbian foster parents seems unwise and unfair, especially given the shortage of available foster homes. On the other hand, given that many (most?) children in foster care are older and may come from religious or other backgrounds which would make it difficult for them to adjust to living in a homosexual household, special care should be taken.

As for the transgendered. Sorry, folks, but there’s no way that having transexuals raise foster kids is a good idea. It’s just going to be entirely too confusing for kids. Remember, we’re generally not talking about infants here. We’re talking teens and pre-teens, in Texas for Christ’s sake, many of whom would find the entire concept entirely foreign and scary and we don’t need to be potentially fucking up kids in the name of equality, especially kids who’ve already been throught the trauma of entering the foster care system.

April 21, 2005 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

To see the reasoning that a court would employ in deciding such a case in favor of Texas, see: Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804 (2004). This case states clearly that (1) foster relationships are created by the state and therefore governed by such laws as the state may impose; (2) discrimination on the basis of sexual preference is subject to the “rational scrutiny” standard and (3) a state law prohibiting homosexuals from adopting has a “rational basis” and is therefore not unconsitituitonal.

Thus ends today’s lesson in Constitutional law.

April 21, 2005 @ 11:56 pm | Comment

I appreciate it, Conrad. Now please, throw in an editorial line about how you, too, find it loathsome to have to state your sexual status on a government form of any kind.

April 22, 2005 @ 7:52 am | Comment


The new Pope is already busy at work…be afraid.

New Pope condemns Spain gay bill
By Robert Piggott
BBC News, Rome

… more in BBC news site

April 22, 2005 @ 10:55 am | Comment

Oh, I expect the worst. This is the same one who cooperated with Rove’s efforts to have the church deny the sacraments to John Kerry because he believes women should have the right to choose. As though John Kerry is the only such Catholic. I am tempted to utter an obscenity, but he is the pope and I’ll try to be respectful for now.

April 22, 2005 @ 11:19 am | Comment

Too bad… one of my buddies was a proud and excellent gay foster father. But it never was about the children, was it?

April 23, 2005 @ 10:31 pm | Comment


Sorry, can’t do it. While few people are more opposed to government intrusion into personal matters than am I, in the case of foster parenting, where the interests of especially vulnerable children are at risk, and where no one is required to apply, I would prefer to air on the side of intrusiveness.

Were I to apply to be a foster parent I would expect the government to make all kinds of inquiries into my personal affairs.

April 24, 2005 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.