The Senate author of a bill designed to overhaul the state's protective service agencies said Thursday that she will work to strip a controversial provision that would prohibit gays and lesbians from serving as foster parents.
"I will strenuously object to that amendment going onto the bill," said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville. "I do not want this bill being at risk of being tied up in court."
Nelson's remark came two days after the Texas House voted to include the ban on gay foster parents in what state leaders say is a desperately needed measure to fix systemic problems in the state Department of Family Protective Services. The agency oversees Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services, which have been under criticism for more than a year amid reports of widespread and sometimes deadly abuse and neglect.
Nelson said she is concerned that the ban on gay foster parents, pushed by state Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, would probably become a magnet for lawsuits and that it might cause upheaval for the thousands of children in homes where the foster parents might be gay or bisexual.
The House sponsor of Senate Bill 6, state Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, said she would not support uprooting children already in a foster home. Hupp said she might be amenable to language in the bill saying that gays and lesbians should not serve as foster parents, but would not require state workers to determine an applicant's sexual orientation.
"I understand the concern," Hupp said. "My concern is for the child. I could care less what two consenting adults do behind closed doors. I just don't care. But, when we are yanking a child out of a home ... it's traumatic to that kid. And then we're planting them into the home of strangers, which is traumatic.
"If [the child is placed] in a home with an openly gay couple, I think that could create further upheaval in that child's life," she added.
We'll see who's stronger, Senator Nelson or the Talton wing of her party. I'd make Nelson a slight favorite, but you can bet there will be an awful lot of public pressure coming from the so-called "family values" crowd to keep any waverers in line.
More from the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby, Inside the Texas Capitol (both of which feature this photo of the gentleman from Pasadena, which should be in every mailout his opponent next year makes), Pink Dome, Burnt Orange, and most intriguingly from Hope, who posts the following from a Senate staffer:
As repulsive as the vote for Talton's amendment is, rest assured that it is dead. Sen. Nelson is telling other senators that its adoption would kill the bill. Not sure if that is because of a filibuster or the fiscal note or that Republican senators are even saying they'll oppose it or all of the above. It also would take away all the great publicity they and the Governor want from reforming CPS and APS. But the senators are really just laughing about it as just the latest from Crazy Bob Talton.