Last edited: February 14, 2005

Bill Would Ban Gay Texans From Adopting Children

Houston Chronicle, December 10, 1998

By Polly Ross Hughes

AUSTIN -- A West Texas legislator is sponsoring a bill that would ban gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents or adopting children in state custody, prompting a sharp attack from a vocal gay Republican group.

"This bill is offensive, and I think any fair-minded individual will find this bill to be offensive," said Steve Labinski, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, which advocates equal treatment of homosexuals in the GOP.

The proposal, filed this week by state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, would direct Child Protective Services not to place children in homes with homosexual parents, and defines their sexual practices as "deviate."

Private adoptions would not be affected, but thousands of children at risk could be. Currently the state oversees 17,578 foster children and last year approved 1,548 adoptions.

Labinski called Chisum’s proposal "un-Republican" and said it hardly echoes the concept of "compassionate conservatism" championed by Gov. George W. Bush.

Chisum, however, maintains that his research shows homosexual parents place children at risk of an unhealthy lifestyle, illegal activity or an unstable home life. Chisum considers homosexual acts illegal under the state’s sodomy law.

"This bill is not about any rights of gays and lesbians to be parents," said Chisum, who sponsored an unsuccessful bill in the 1997 legislative session that said Texas would not recognize gay marriages.

"This bill ensures that the state will provide the best possible homes for children who have already been abused and neglected," Chisum said.

The issue could erupt into a divisive debate should it hit the floor of the Texas House when the Legislature meets next year. State Rep. Glen Maxey, an Austin Democrat and the only openly gay legislator, has said any law or policy that authorized such a "witch hunt" would "create a world of hurt."

The bill responds to a dispute last year when Dallas CPS caseworker Rebecca Bledsoe was disciplined after abruptly removing an infant from the home of a lesbian foster parent. Bledsoe said she was told she had failed to show respect for the foster mother. She filed a lawsuit against the state in September, and the American Civil Liberties Union intervened the following month to argue against Bledsoe.

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