Chicago (AFP) – Kansas lawmakers moved Friday to make their state the latest in the US that allows faith-based adoption agencies to deny their services to same-sex couples.
The Republican-dominated state legislature approved the contentious bill overnight, giving legal cover to groups that cite their religious beliefs in refusing to place children with gay and lesbian parents.
The state’s Republican governor promised to sign the measure into law.
Opponents, which included child welfare advocates, claimed the bill codifies discrimination, but proponents said it would encourage more adoption agencies with religious ties to operate in the state.
“Catholic charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities. I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes,” Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer said in a statement.
The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign called the proposed law “patently discriminatory” and urged the governor to veto it.
“This insidious bill will make it harder for kids to find qualified loving homes,” HRC senior vice president JoDee Winterhof said.
“Business leaders, child welfare advocates, faith leaders and ordinary Kansans have all spoken out against this bill.”
At least eight states have adopted similar measures, while others have passed laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption cases.
The Oklahoma legislature passed a religious-based adoption bill Thursday similar to the one in Kansas and matching laws already enacted in Alabama, Michigan, South Dakota and Texas.
A Texas lesbian couple challenged the southwestern state’s law in February, after their foster care application was denied.
Their lawsuit claimed the Texas law “impermissibly discriminates against same-sex couples who are prospective foster and adoptive parents.”