A new Kansas law will let child welfare providers deny services to prospective same-sex parents.
Governor Jeff Colyer signed Senate Bill 284 on Friday, legally allowing adoption and foster care placement agencies to refuse families based on religion, the Wichita Eagle reports. A similar bill was signed into law last week in Oklahoma.
SB 284 allows agencies to refuse placement of children for adoption or foster care “when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
While it could also be used to deny single parents, divorced individuals, and interfaith couples, critics insist SB 284 specifically targets same-sex couples.
“What I want Kansans to know is this is about fairness and that we are protecting everyone,” Colyer said. “It’s not about discrimination, it’s about fairness. We’re looking after those kids that need a forever home.”
As we reported earlier this month, the Senate passed the bill 24-15 after the House approved it with a 63-58 vote.
“Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities,” said Colyer in a previous statement. “I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes.”
The Republican governor signed the bill, which has been backed by the Catholic Church, at Youth Horizons Kinloch Price Boys Ranch, a Christian nonprofit agency.
“Kansas lawmakers, from the legislature to the governor, are clearly stating that it is more important to them to discriminate against their own constituents than it is to find loving homes for children in need,” says JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at HRC. “Make no mistake: this law will harm the kids, families and reputation of this state.”
Kansas and Oklahoma are the only two states this year to allow anti-LGBT legislation to become law.