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Late yesterday evening, the Kansas Senate amended HB 2481 to include the contents of SB 401/HB 2687, which will allow taxpayer-funded child placement agencies to deny placement in LGBT homes based on so-called “religious freedom” grounds.
The bill now moves to the House, where passage is uncertain.
Please call your state representatives TODAY and ask them to stop this bill! You can look up your representative by using your address here: https://openstates.org/ , or by browsing the Kansas House roster here: http://kslegislature.org/li/b2017_18/chamber/house/roster/
Equality Kansas does not object to religious organizations observing their religious principles in providing private adoption services. Our objection is to the use of taxpayer dollars being used to discriminate against the LGBT population of our state.
The truth of HB2481 is this: it has nothing to do with private adoptions. They are targeted at “Child in Need of Care” contracts with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). This bill will allow private child placement agencies to be paid taxpayer dollars to provide state services to Kansans, and then refuse to serve entire categories of Kansas citizens. This is similar to 2014’s HB 2453, which would have allowed state employees to refuse to serve LGBT Kansans.
DCF places children in foster and adoptive homes based on the “best interest of the child.” HB2481 will overturn “best interest” practices in favor of placements based on the religious demands of the placement agencies. HB2481 usurps the responsibility of DCF to place children in homes based on the best interest of the child. Instead, a religious test will be used by state contractors to determine suitability of a placement.
The backers of these bills claim they will be “forced to shut down” if these bills are not passed. These claims are false. Any adoptions they are performing are private, and would remain so with or without passage of HB2481.
The proponents also claim they and they alone are effective at placing special-needs children in foster and adoptive homes. This claim is ludicrous. LGBT families across our state and our nation accept, foster, and adopt special needs children on a regular basis. LGBT families provide permanent homes in cases where other families will not or cannot.
These bills open the door to other state contractors being able to deny taxpayer-funded services to Kansans. Privatized KanCare providers are one example. As the State of Kansas moves to provide other taxpayer-funded services via private contractors (such as state hospitals), how many of those contractors will be able to claim “religion” as a means to deny service to or unfair treatment of certain groups?
Even the Kansas Catholic Conference states these bills will not affect their current adoption placement practices. This is nothing more than an egregious, discriminatory attack on LGBT Kansans.