I’m fine admitting I’ve been wrong about things, and so far I’ve been wrong several times about HB2725, the Texas bill that in its current form would provide an unrestricted right for adult adoptees to get their own original birth certificates.
I thought the bill, as drafted and introduced, died in committee after failing to get enough favorable votes. In fact, I was called an arrogant buffoon at the time for stating that the bill, as written, was dead. But the bill came back for a second life, exhumed from the committee at the last minute on an unusual second vote. The committee met hastily this past Monday night to vote the bill out of committee, just hours before deadline, though five members were absent.
I then thought there was no chance that the bill would, literally with less than two hours to spare, be reported out of a second committee, resulting in it being placed on the House floor calendar. Wrong again. It was. It’s now on the House floor calendar for second reading and eligible for a vote this Thursday, along with nearly 100 other bills fighting to be considered before a midnight deadline.
I thought, since discriminatory amendments had been presented and made a condition of passage—and since Governor Greg Abbott, an adoptive father, had already signaled he would veto HB2725 as it was currently written—there was no chance the bill would move forward without amendments. Am I wrong about that too? That’s less and less clear.
Advocates are far from alone in thinking these things. It is widely accepted that most bills in the Texas House this session had to make it out of committee by late April to have any chance to make it to a floor vote in time. Plus, the legislative council, legislative staffers, and influential legislators confirmed that amendments had been drafted and forwarded to committee. Then the bill received a ridiculous fiscal note that inflated the cost of implementation to $1.2 million over five years, with two full-time employees needed to process the several dozen optional contact preference forms that would likely be filed each year. Numerous legislators and legislative staff at the capitol also told us specifically that there was no chance HB2725 would 1) pass without discriminatory amendments; and 2) make it past the May 9 House deadline without amendments having been in the hopper all along. Have they been wrong too? Will HB2725 continue to defy expectations? That’s also less clear at this point.
More specific questions are these: are discriminatory amendments going to be offered by opponents and voted on and approved by the House, in a wink wink way of proving that they were planned all along? Or will the bill just die without consideration by midnight on Thursday, with the Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition having done its part to insist on and assure equality for all Texas adoptees? And will I be wrong again?
My hope is, yes, I’ll be wrong again. I hope that me and TXARC and hundreds of other advocates are wrong about discriminatory amendments. I hope the bill defies expectations again and passes as it is written, with no discriminatory provisions.
In the end, the issue continues to be a fight about what equality means for all adult adopted people. One group, Support Texas Adoptee Rights (STAR), supports discriminatory amendments as a strategy to pass a bill, yet it won’t admit to that. I and many others involved with the Texas Adoptee Rights Coalition do not support backwards-looking inequality, and we are crystal clear and transparent about that, becoming the big meanies on the block for consistently saying so and also backing it up with action.
It’s been a strange process in Texas this session, with brand-new legislators and sponsors, a specific interest from the governor, and a lack of expected transparency from numerous people, including advocates speaking on behalf of adoptees. At this point, I only hope I am wrong again and that HB2725 remains a bill that provides equality for all Texas adoptees. That’s what it is all about.