The Human Rights Campaign flew its top leader to Kansas to advocate against an adoption bill that doesn’t change the way children in need are placed in foster homes. That didn’t stop Matt Griffin, the president of HRC, from attacking the Adoption Protection Act.
The proposal codifies existing policy related to private, faith-based adoption services, but in a press conference in the Kansas Capitol, Griffin called the proposal “hateful” and “cruel.”
“We should be making it easier, not harder, for children to find loving homes. Limiting the pool of qualified parents for discriminatory reasons harms the very children these agencies are funded to protect,” he said.
HRC, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the largest LGBTQ rights organization in the country. Griffin was joined by a Topeka business owner, the CEO of FosterAdopt Connect, and the executive director of for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
Rep. Susan Humphries, a Wichita Republican, sponsored the Adoption Protection Act. She says they are making assumptions about the legislation.
“This bill doesn’t keep anybody from adopting or foster care,” she said.
Instead, it allows faith-based adoption services, like Catholic Charities, to continue
operating in accordance to their faith in the state of Kansas as they always have.
“In the privacy of their agencies and churches, if they want to engage in discriminatory behavior, that’s between them and God,” Tom Witt, the executive director for Equality Kansas, said during the press conference. “Right now, what they’re trying to do is between them and the rest of us taxpayers.”
That’s a mischaracterization. The religious liberty protections in the bill do not apply to St. Francis and KVC, the two agencies the state contracts with for reintegration, foster care, and adoption services.
The legislation passed the Senate, but failed in the House. It’s now been attached to other legislation, but it’s languishing in conference committee. Rep. Blaine Finch, an Ottawa Republican, is chairing the committee, but he has yet to bring up the bill. He voted against concurring with the Senate on the proposal in March.
North Dakota, Virginia, Rhode Island, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota and Texas have all passed legislation protecting faith-based adoption organizations, but the effort in Kansas met stiff resistance, including yesterday’s press conference.
Humphries is an adoptive parent and adoption attorney. She says faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to close in at least four states due to their requirements that prospective adoptive parents be a married man and wife.
“We are seeing a concerted effort across the U.S. to get rid of the faith-based agencies,” she says. “If there’s that storm coming, we’d like to be pre-emptive.”
Humphries says the bill’s supporters are people who are in the trenches in Kansas.
“The opposition, they’re coming in from out-of-state and assuming things,” she says. “I don’t think they have the best interests of children in mind.”