TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers have passed legislation to grant legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies that won't place children in LGBT homes.
The Kansas House and Senate approved a bill overnight that would prevent agencies from being barred from providing adoption services for the state if they refuse to place children in homes violating their religious beliefs.
The Senate vote was 24-15, and in the House it passed with a 63-58 vote. It goes next to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, who supports it.
“Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities. I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes,” Colyer said.
President of FosterAdopt Connect Lori Ross said this piece of legislation is disheartening for the roughly 7,000 Kansas children in foster care.
"This is a very sad day for Kansas kids. It's a very sad day for Kansas families," Ross said. "These families, who are now going to be discouraged from becoming foster and adoptive families, are an enormous loss to the Kansas foster care system. They're an enormous loss to the Kansas children."
Family Policy Alliance of Kansas Executive Director and President Eric Teetsel who backed the bill, said this has been their number one priority for the past year.
"Conscience is absolutely vital," Teetsel said. "It's the foundation of all civil liberties and no one should ever say to another person, you don't get to do business, you don't get to live your life, you don't get to raise your family according to the dictates of your conscience."
"They have been doing this work, funded by private dollars and every religious organization has every right to practice their beliefs in every way they want to," Ross said. "My problem with this is, is taking state taxpayer dollars to provide that service, which is what I said before more than 120,000 Kansans are paying in to the state of Kansas to then support practices which discriminate against those Kansans is just wrong."
Bridget Wray, who volunteers at the Kansas City Center for Inclusion, is from Overland Park, Kansas and said this opens up the door for discrimination.
"It's honestly pretty disappointing for me," Wray said. "You know imagining maybe having a family in Kansas some day and realizing if my family chooses to adopt that some centers are not going to allow that to happen, is just really disappointing and wish my state could do better."
Colyer's spokesman confirmed Friday morning the governor plans to sign the bill.
Supporters argued that the measures would protect the right of adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs. Critics said they would sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination.