Originally published in the San Antonio Express-News, May 8, 2005
by Susan Ives
On mothers day we honor mothers. All mothers.
Soccer moms who haul their kids to a string activities every afternoon in SUVs and barely-making-it moms who carve out an hour once a week to haul their kids to the library on the #34 bus. Mothers with one child and mothers with half a dozen. Birth mothers, step mothers, grandmothers, adoptive mothers and foster mothers. Moms raising their children with a loving partner and single moms struggling to make it alone.
All mothers, unless Senate Bill 6 passes in the Texas Legislature.
S.B. 6 started out as a much needed overhaul to the state’s child and adult protective services, proposed, according to Senate staff analysis, in response to numerous cases in which children and elderly were left in states of abuse or neglect, despite agency involvement, resulting in severe harm or even death.
Good bill, until state Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, tacked on an amendment which would forbid entrusting children to gay, lesbian or bisexual foster parents and would remove kids from current placements where the foster parent is gay.
The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization, calls the amendment “discriminatory, unconstitutional, and contrary to the best interests of children in foster care.”
Talton explained that he wants to protect children from “the homosexual lifestyle.” I wish he would explain what he means by that. The gay people I know have lives amazingly like my own: they go to work, cook dinner, pick up the dry-cleaning, balance the checkbook, take out the trash on Tuesday and Friday and go to the movies on Saturday night. The ones with kids spend their fair share of time behind the wheels of their SUVs hauling the kids off to soccer practice and ballet lessons. Perhaps a bit boring but certainly not degenerate.
During the floor debate Talton said his action was prompted by studies regarding the suitability of gays and lesbians to be parents. Parents influence the sexual preferences of their children, he asserted, citing one unnamed study which concluded that “40 percent of the children of lesbian mothers said their mother wanted them to become homosexual.”
This is not true. The American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers filed an Amici Curiae brief, known as the “Boswell Brief,” in a 1998 court case. Their conclusion was that “contrary to sometimes expressed fears, the research shows that children raised by, or otherwise regularly involved with, gay or lesbian parents are no more likely themselves to be homosexual than children raised by, or regularly involved with, only heterosexual parents.” Not one of the abuse and neglect cases that sparked the legislation involved a gay or lesbian parent. Not one.
Randall Ellis, executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, estimates that between 2,000 and 2,500 children are currently in homes with homosexual parents and could be affected if this bill becomes law.
Children who will be taken from caring homes and put in shelters. Talton doesn’t care. “If it was me I would rather leave kids in orphanages,” he said.
The Texas State Employees Union told the Houston Chronicle the gay foster ban would cost the state $8 million:” It would cost money to search for new foster parents to replace existing gay foster parents who would be disqualified.”
The House version of the bill was passed on April 20 and 135-6 vote and is now back in the full Senate. If the House version isn’t adopted by the Senate, a joint conference committee involving members from both chambers will meet to work out the differences.
If the bill passes, Texas would become the only state that bans gay, lesbian and bisexual people from becoming foster parents. A similar regulation of the Arkansas Child Welfare Agency Review Board was struck down by the courts, which found that “the evidence overwhelmingly showed that there was no rational relationship between [the blanket exclusion of gay and lesbian foster parents] and the health, safety, and welfare of foster children.”
On mothers day we honor mothers. All mothers. Let’s honor them this year by defeating this abominable amendment and putting the welfare of our neediest children above the rantings of a bigoted blowhard.