Gay adoption took center stage at the Texas Legislature on Wednesday.
Prior to a hearing on a bill that would permit faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people, Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor in support of a proposal to allow the adopted children of same-sex couples to have accurate birth certificates.
Anchia’s House Bill 537 was heard by the State Affairs Committee last month but remains stalled there due to a lack of support among members. On Wednesday, Anchia used a rare point of privilege, which he said was his first in six terms in the Legislature, to address the bill on the floor.
Anchia said the bill, which he’s carried four times, is always well-received in committee, and the author of the law the measure seeks to overturn, former state Rep. Will Hartnett (R-Dallas), has acknowledged it should be changed.
“Yet year after year these bills languish because of outside pressure from groups that lie to you and tell you the bill does something it doesn’t do,” Anchia said, referring to opposition to HB 537 from the anti-LGBT group Texas Values. “Regardless of how you feel about a kid’s parents, you’re always good to the kid. They didn’t pick their parents, but those are the parents they have, and you know, those are the parents they love, and they deserve accurate birth certificates. We can do better than this. Texas is better than this.”
Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) then requested that Anchia’s remarks be recorded in the House Journal.
Cook, who chairs State Affairs, made headlines when he smacked down a witness from Texas Values during a hearing on the bill.
“I just want everybody to know that I support what we’re trying to do here for these kids,” Cook said on the floor Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues was set to consider HB 3864, by Rep. Scott Sanford (R-McKinney), which would allow child welfare agencies that contract with the state to discriminate based on sincerely held religious beliefs.
Another anti-LGBT measure, HB 2801, by Rep. Gilbert Peña (R-Pasadena), was temporarily pulled from consideration in State Affairs on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported that Cook told Peña the committee wouldn’t consider the bill until it’s “toned down.”
Also on Wednesday, a bill calling for a study on homeless youth, up to 40 percent of whom are believed to be LGBT, passed the House on second reading. HB 679, by Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston), is supported by Equality Texas.
Watch video of Anchia’s speech below.