The Kansas Senate gave final passage Thursday to a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies will continue to have access to state contracts and grants, even if they refuse to place children in certain homes based on the agency’s religious beliefs.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Kansas and a number of child welfare advocacy groups openly opposed the bill during committee hearings, with some arguing that it would allow state money to flow to organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples, single adults or even people from another faith.
It’s striking to me that religious conservatives seem to believe that “freedom of religion” means they’re entitled to taxpayer money — it’s a definition of freedom conservatives would countenance in no other context.
But philosophical arguments aside, you know who gets hurt by this? Kansas kids.
Why? Because there’s evidence that steering foster- and adoptive kids to heterosexual-only parents can actually endanger them:
Members of the Legislative Post Audit Committee again declined Tuesday to request an investigation into whether the Kansas Department for Children and Families has placed children in risky situations because of a preference for heterosexual foster parents.
Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat from Wichita, first requested the audit in December after reports surfaced of DCF removing a baby from the home of a lesbian couple in Wichita and placing it with a heterosexual Topeka couple who subsequently were charged with child abuse.
“We had a judicial finding — after evidence, where both sides had lawyers to argue — that raised serious questions about whether DCF was making decisions (about) placing children based on the best interests of those children or based on some political ideology that opposed same-sex relationships,” Ward said.
Why? Because LGBT couples tend to take on “hard” cases that other prospective parents won’t touch:
According to Tor Docherty, chief executive of New Family Social, (NFS) data from the National Register, the national database of children available for adoption and approved adopters waiting for children, shows that LGBT people are more willing to consider adopting harder-to-place children.
There are a number of reasons why many same sex couples are keen to care for children with more challenging circumstances, she says. “Adoption is often the first route to parenthood [for LGBT people] and this can come with a different set of expectations,” she explains. “They are approaching parenthood in a non-traditional way and may be more flexible.” While many heterosexual couples consider adoption following fertility problems, and because of this can be more focused on babies or younger children, adopting one baby or infant might not necessarily be so important for LGBT people, she says.
That’s from The Guardian, but I’ve heard similar stories in Kansas and the United States for more than a decade.
The ACLU gets this exactly right:
Myth: Children need a mother and a father to have proper male and female role models.
Fact: Children without homes have neither a mother nor a father as role models.
The Senate bill is great for religious agencies. It’s not so great for kids. The State of Kansas is revealing its priorities in ugly fashion.