Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer Signs SB 284 Allowing Discrimination in the Foster Care and Adoption System

“When taxpayer-funded, state licensed agencies are allowed to prioritize their own religious beliefs over expanding placement opportunities in loving homes, kids in foster care pay the price.

May 18, 2018 — For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — This afternoon, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signed SB 284 into law, allowing taxpayer-funded child placing agencies to refuse to serve foster or adoptive parents who do not share their religious beliefs, including LGBTQ parents, single parents, or parents of other faiths.

Known as HB 2841 earlier in the legislative session, the law drew vigorous opposition from business leaders, child welfare organizations, faith leaders, and members of the national Every Child Deserves a Family campaign.

“This law places the religious beliefs of some child-placing agencies above the needs of Kansas’ most vulnerable children,” said The Reverend Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Family Equality Council, “When taxpayer-funded, state licensed agencies are allowed to prioritize their own religious beliefs over expanding placement opportunities in loving homes, kids in foster care pay the price.”

Over fifty Kansas-based faith leaders and 39 national faith-based organizations sent a letter to Governor Colyer expressing their opposition to SB 284, reminding the Governor that “[religious] freedom doesn’t give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, or to put children in harm’s way. To argue that religious freedom justifies the use of taxpayer dollars to discriminate against children and prospective parents is a distortion of such freedom, and a misunderstanding of civil rights law.”

Religious freedom is a core American value, and it is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. But freedom of religion does not give people the right to impose their beliefs on others, or to deny loving homes to vulnerable children in foster care, simply because prospective parents don’t share an agency’s religious beliefs. The majority of the American public agree: a September 2017 poll demonstrated that 68% of Americans oppose allowing taxpayer-funded child placing agencies to refuse to place children with gay or lesbian couples.

Family Equality Council is committed to continuing to fight on behalf for LGBTQ families and for child welfare systems that are free from discrimination. Family Equality Council is proud to lead the national Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, bringing together a broad coalition of organizations from across the political spectrum, including child welfare organizations, child welfare professionals, advocacy and civil rights organizations, and current and former foster youth with lived experience in the child welfare system. Campaign members are united in the belief that no otherwise qualified foster or adoptive parent should be turned away due to their marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality Council believes every LGBTQ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live.

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Media Contact:

Ed Harris, Chief Communications Officer
646.880.3005 x117 / communications@familyequality.org