Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has passed a law that intends to protect faith-based adoption agencies from being forced to provide services that conflict with their religious convictions.
House Bill 3859, which was passed by the Texas House and Senate last month, was signed by the governor on Thursday.
The new law, known as the Freedom to Serve Children Act, would prevent the government from taking away the state funding of faith-based adoption agencies and foster care organizations for declining to place children in homosexual-led households.
The legislation also covers other conscience objections such as placing children with single or divorced adults, according to Life Site News. If a faith-based child welfare agency refuses to provide a certain service, the government is required to provide an alternative resource for the service.
The passage of the law has been denounced by several progressive and LGBT activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which stated that Texas "has codified anti-LGBT discrimination into law."
"This law will now prioritize discrimination over the best interests of children looking for a loving, stable home. That is unconscionable," Marty Rouse, HRC's national field director, said in a statement on Thursday.
An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said that Abbott "will have blood on his hands" as a result of the passage of the legislation.
Rep. James Frank, who sponsored the measure, rejected the discrimination claims, saying in a Facebook post in May that the legislation is anti-discriminatory, as it "seeks to protect faith-based providers from adverse actions for exercising their deeply held religious beliefs."
"At the same time, it requires the Department of Family and Protective Services to ensure alternative providers are present to offer any service denied for reasons of sincerely held religious beliefs," he said.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB), which expressed support for the legislation in late May, thanked Abbott, as well as Frank and Sen. Charles Perry, for their efforts to pass the measure.
"Our ministries throughout the state are actively seeking new ways to be of service to the children of Texas and welcome all people of good will to join us in these endeavors." said TCCB Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon.
Laws protecting faith-based agencies have also been passed in Alabama, Michigan, South Dakota, North Dakota and Virginia.
Life Site News noted that Catholic adoption agencies in Boston, Illinois, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, have voluntarily closed down rather than be forced by the state to put children in homosexual-led households.