Senate Bill 284 is supposed to protect faith-based groups that do adoptions in Kansas.
Susan Humphries helped advance the effort in Topeka this year where lawmakers passed it and Governor Colyer is expected to sign the measure.
“I met with a coalition in the fall to see if it would be good for Kansas kids,” says Kansas House member Susan Humphries of Wichita. “And we did a lot of research from other states that have done something like this.”
Humphries says the goal was to make sure faith-based groups were not discriminated against when it came to adoptions.
“In some states we have seen that,” says Humphries. “So there’s been legal challenges in Texas and in Michigan. In Michigan there is no Catholic Charities (adoptions) because their licenses have been revoked. We need all of the agencies we can get.”
But some in the LGBT community say they are concerned the new measure could lead to discrimination.
“I helped raise my brother’s kids. I got them when they were very young,” says gay parent and activist, Jon Powell of Hutchinson. “We need all the adoptions we can get in Kansas. The words closely held religious beliefs could lead to discrimination.”
Senate Bill 284 says, in part, “Notwithstanding any other provision of state law, and to the extent
allowed by federal law, no child placement agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer or otherwise participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Another gay Kansas parent says he echoes the same concerns.
“When I went to adopt I had said, I’m gay and I’m interested in adoption and is that a problem? And they said no,” said Glenn Owen.
Glenn adopted two kids and raised them. They are still a close-knit family.
Owen is asking if faith-based groups will stop allowing adoptions to gay parents.
“Will it will change for some who want to adopt?” asks Owen. “Maybe who are foster parents right now and who want to adopt, but because they are going through an organization that is faith-based, (it could) prevent them from adoption?”
As an educator and gay parent, Owen is concerned the number of adoptions could be cut back with the new bill.
Humphries says the bill should allow more faith-based groups the confidence to come to Kansas. She also maintains there are both faith-based and non-faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas.
“So we have St. Francis and KVC,” says Humphries. “And under KVC and St. Francis there remain 12 faith-based agencies that continue to operate and the 20-some other (non-faith-based) agencies continuing to operate in the way they have before so that everybody can be served.”
Humphries says the Kansas bill was patterned after a bill in Virginia. She says, bottom line, it will not discriminate.
Some in the LGBT community say they will be watching how adoption numbers go in the coming months and over the course of the next year.
“This just doesn’t feel positive to me,” says Powell.
KSN reached out to several adoption agencies for comment. One replied to say they are studying the new bill.