Religious Veto on LGBT Adoptions in Oklahoma and Kansas


Religious and faith-based adoption agencies in Oklahoma and Kansas now have legal protection to refuse to place children in homes that violate their religious beliefs. This came after the state legislators approved adoption bills that grant this type of legal protection to adoption agencies in those two states. After the approval of the bills, faith based agencies are not obligated to provide foster care or adoption services for the state if they refuse to place children in LGBT homes.

Supporters of such measures insist on protecting a group’s right to live out its religious faith, but critics see these bills as an attack on LGBT rights and LGBT people. Giving agencies the right to refuse to place children in homes that violate their religious beliefs is like giving them the right to get away with discrimination.

Kansas State House approved the bill in a 63-58 vote and afterwards the Senate passed it 24-15; now the bill goes to Governor Jeff Colyer, who supports it. Meanwhile in Oklahoma, the House’s 56-21 vote sent the bill to Governor Mary Fallin, who has not said whether she would sign it.

Unfortunately, Kansas and Oklahoma will not be the only states with this type of legislation. Texas, Alabama, South Dakota, Virginia and Michigan already have such laws in place. In Michigan, their American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter took the state to court last year over its adoption law, and the case is still ongoing. On the other hand, Catholic Charities has stopped handling adoptions in Washington D.C., Massachusetts and San Francisco over concerns they would be required to act against their religious beliefs and Illinois declined to renew its state contract with Catholic Charities adoption services due to its policy of refusing child placement to same-sex couples.

The advocates of these bills fear that lawsuits or turnover among state officials could result in an environment hostile to some religious groups' views and they also believe that passing the measure could encourage groups providing limited services for the state or doing only private adoptions to work more with the state.

On the other hand, according to Fox News, critics like Lori Ross, president of Foster Adopt Connect, a child placement agency operating in Kansas and Missouri, contend the real problem is a lack of available families. Ross said for LGBT families looking to adopt, it isn't always obvious which agencies will work with them and which won't, she said. If they make that first phone call and get denied, they may never try and adopt again. "If you're a single person, or a gay person, or a divorced person, or you're Jewish, then you better think twice before you call," Ross said.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia

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