State lawmakers in both Kansas and Oklahoma have approved legislation to grant legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies that cite their “religious beliefs” for not placing children in gay and lesbian homes.
The Kansas Senate approved a bill early Friday morning, 24-15, that would prevent faith-based agencies from being barred from providing foster care or adoption services for the state if they refuse to place children in homes violating their “sincerely held” religious beliefs. The House had approved it late Thursday, 63-58.
“There is no homosexual agenda — I was told that, when people were saying that there was one, and now we find out, there is an agenda,” said Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a conservative Leavenworth Republican.
Kansas Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer supported his state’s legislation, with his administration arguing with the “spin” that it would encourage faith-based groups to place more abused and neglected children in state custody.
The Oklahoma bill cleared the GOP-controlled Legislature over the boisterous objections of Democrats. At one point, the chamber’s presiding officer threatened to have a member forcibly removed and was sent to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin, who has not said whether she would sign it.
TechNet, representing some of the biggest names in tech, including Apple and Google, sent a letter to lawmakers in both states opposing their measures. Critics in Kansas worried that it would make the state look backward and even suggested it could hurt the economy.
Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, Virginia and Michigan already have such laws in place. Michigan’s ACLU chapter took the state to court last year over its adoption law, and the case is still ongoing..