- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Texas Legislature is considering legislation that would ban homosexuals and bisexuals from becoming foster parents.

If the legislation is enacted, Texas would be the only state in the nation with such a restriction.

Arkansas had banned homosexuals — or any family with a homosexual member — from foster parenting, but a judge ruled the law unconstitutional.

The Texas version emerged Tuesday as a late House amendment after nearly five hours of debate over a massive overhaul of the state’s child and adult protective services.

Rep. Robert Talton, Pasadena Republican, said he added the proposal as an amendment because it would not get a hearing if he filed it as a separate bill.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that we protect our most vulnerable children, and I don’t think we are doing that if we allow a foster parent that is homosexual or bisexual,” he said. “I think a child ought to have the opportunity to be presented to a traditional family as such.

“And if they choose to be homosexual or lesbian, then that’s their choice when they are 18.”

Several Democrats argued against the amendment, but it passed by a 81-58 vote in the heavily Republican-controlled House.

“We are here to put children first, not ideology,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal, San Antonio Democrat. “How are we going to implement Representative Talton’s inquisition?”

“The system is broken and together we must fix it,” said Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, Lampasas Republican who sponsored the House bill’s widespread overhaul of the state’s programs for children.

In addition to revamping the system of handling abuse or neglect cases, the Hupp bill would add about $250 million to the agency’s budget for 848 more investigators, increased monitoring of foster homes and a streamlining of services.

Private companies, which now handle three of every four foster homes in Texas, would manage them all under the bill.

The realignment bill passed by a 126-16 vote.

Mrs. Hupp said she agreed “with the philosophy” of the Talton amendment, but was not sure whether it would remain part of the legislation.

The Senate has passed a more moderate approach to Child Protective Services reform.

Rep. Carlos Uresti, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the Hupp bill, is expected to be a member of the House-Senate conference committee that will iron out the final legislation.

He said he was not sure the anti-homosexual portion would remain.

“I would hope the Senate will have a little more sense, and be a little more sensitive,” he said.

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