The Wisdom of Deacon Talton

Rep. Robert Talton's testimony on gay foster parents before the State Affairs committee.

The following excerpts, edited for clarity, are taken from an April 22 meeting of the House Committee on State Affairs, at which Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, introduced HB 1911, which would ban gay and lesbian foster parents. Rep. Toby Goodman, an Arlington Republican, begins the questioning:

Toby Goodman: Robert, how would they determine the sexual orientation of these individuals?

Robert Talton: Probably the only way is to ask it and put it on a check-off box and see. They make visits anyway now when they do the foster care. Before they allow anybody in there, they do background. ... They don't give them to just anyone.

TG: Does that run afoul of any law or does that present any constitutional issues?

RT: None that I'm aware of.

Rep. Mike Villareal, D-San Antonio: Mr. Talton, why single out homosexuals and bisexuals?

RT: Well, there's some of us that believe that that's not the right kind of conduct that a child should have until he reaches the age of 18. Then they can make a decision on whether they accept that lifestyle or not.

MV: You're talking about the sexual orientation of the parent, not the child. ...

RT: Right. Of the foster parent, or the alleged foster parent. ... Some of us believe that's a learned behavior; you're not born that way. And so if it's a learned behavior, then if you're taught that that conduct is OK, then that's what they're gonna do. We know that it's a learned behavior on sex offenders ... same thing with this, it's a learned behavior. Same thing with pedophiles -- it's all a learned behavior.

Groans of disbelief from the audience.

MV: Is that a religious opinion?

RT: No, I think that's probably the majority of Texans.

Audience laughs; committee Chair Ken Marchant, R-Coppell, scolds the crowd.

MV: I also sit on Human Services [Committee] and our number one priority is placing children with caring, nurturing, loving parents, period. ... Are you concerned that we are going to be holding this value of yours above this other priority?

RT: Quite frankly, I don't look at those that may be homosexuals as parents as such. ... We think of a parent -- y'all heard DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] -- as a mother and a father and not persons of homosexual conduct. And I would put that value ahead of the value of foster care. Quite frankly, if it was me I would rather [leave] kids in orphanages. ... At least they have a chance of learning the proper values, and if that's not important, than I don't know what is.

MV: Wouldn't that deplete the supply of foster homes and cause us to bear the fiscal burden of keeping these children in more expensive children's shelters?

RT: Well, it may bar those that may teach the homosexual [or] bisexual conduct. ... There's obviously less of them then the unmarried, but ... if you teach these things like this, then what is next? ... The Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby says that most of these kids are victims of child abuse, so all you're doing is continuing the same thing.

MV: If we marginalize homosexual parents in this area of policy, what is the next step?

RT: Well, I don't look at 'em as parents, number one. Number two, who knows what happens. You and I both see what happens in legislation; it's give and take according to what session it is, things change.

MV: Are there other states that have this kind of policy?

RT: I haven't looked. I will tell you what an old deacon at my church used to say: "You know, I'm not really concerned about the other churches; I'm just concerned about our church."

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