Early on Friday, May 4, 2018, Kansas legislature approved Senate Bill 284, otherwise known as The Adoption Protection Act. Introduced by Senator Susan Humphries on February 7, 2018 and based on Virginian law, the bill protects and allows faith-based adoption agencies to reject potential families if they believe the family’s lifestyle and/or beliefs contradict the agencies’ religious beliefs. This means that qualified, loving LGBT parents looking to adopt could be rejected by the faith-based organization on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status if the organization feels their faith disapproves, limiting the options for children who need safe and loving homes. The bill has now passed the Kansas House and Senate, and is waiting only on the governor’s signature.
As The Concerned Women of America Legislative Action Committee points out, there was a huge push for this bill to reach the House. With the midterm elections approaching, the newly elected governor could potentially work against this bill and it was imperative for those fighting for the passage of it to see it passed before executive orders can stop its progress completely.
“Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities. I look forward to signing the bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes.”
Colyer appointed Gina Meier-Hummel as secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families in December 2017. Under her predecessor, Phyllis Gilmore, there was evidence found that the Kansas DCF prioritized discrimination of same-sex families over the wellbeing of children in need — specifically, that a child was removed from a household with lesbian parents; emails were found discussing wanting to have the parents’ foster license revoked and “needing a negative psychological evaluation to support their case.” Meier-Hummel said last year:
“I understand that former leadership was supportive of Kansas law and the Constitution regarding same-sex marriage. […] That being said, I want the committee to know that I recognize the law changed June 2015[…] Moving forward, I will have zero tolerance for any violations of the law.”
Meier-Hummel also backed the Adoption Protection Act early this year.
Those in favor of the bill have claimed it will give more children more options for homes, as other religious organizations will be able to “come in and operate next to [them] if these protections are allowed,” and will give birth families peace of mind that their children are with people who uphold their beliefs.
Those opposing the bill believe that the agencies’ ability to “[take] taxpayer money to discriminate against LGBT Kansans” is “offensive beyond all description.” As Lori Ross, CEO and president of FosterAdopt Connect, an adoption agency that works in Kansas and Missouri, says, the bill is only “solving a problem that does not exist.”
Christie Appelhanz, director of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas, states, “we cannot afford to lose any more qualified families” and the passing of the bill could lead to a barrier prospective families may give up fighting against. Ross also states that LGBT children already have a tough time finding families, and limiting the potential families to those who don’t support them could lead to greater abuse and neglect among them.