Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signed a bill into law on Friday that will allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples.
The bill, known as the Adoption Protection Act, was designed to insulate religious organizations that want to discriminate against the LGBT community. Approved in the Kansas Legislature earlier this month, the bill permits agencies to refuse homes “for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Similar adoption bills are being considered in Oklahoma and Colorado, and at least seven other states have already passed such laws. Some of these laws only apply to organizations that do not receive government funding. The Kansas law extends to agencies operating under taxpayer-funded contracts.
On Friday, Gov. Colyer signed the bill surrounded by legislators, faith leaders and foster care workers.
“What I want Kansans to know is this is about fairness and that we are protecting everyone,” Colyer said Friday. “It’s not about discrimination, it’s about fairness. We’re looking after those kids that need a forever home.”
Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who helped lead the investigation into voter fraud for President Donald Trump, and a current candidate for governor in the state, also supported the legislation.
“Faith-based adoption agencies can continue the great work they do knowing they will always be able to operate in accordance with their faith in Kansas,” he said in a statement.
Not every Republican in Kansas thought the bill was sound policy.
Jim Barnett, a former state senator and another Republican candidate for governor, said the law will open the state to lawsuits and deter young people and businesses from moving to the state, the Wichita Eagle reported.
“This is a moment of truth for Jeff Colyer today,” Barnett said. “He signed discrimination into Kansas law and showed Kansans that the people that controlled [former Gov. Sam] Brownback control him.”
State Rep. Susan Humphries helped push the bill through the Legislature and ensure it would get to Colyer’s desk.
Humphries said Friday that the goal was to make sure faith-based groups were not discriminated against when it came to adoptions. She insisted there are both faith-based and non-faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas.
Allies of the LGBT community argue the law legalizes discrimination.
“We need to attract more qualified families to care for Kansas kids,” Lori Ross, the CEO of Foster Adopt Connect, said. “And this legislation is going to eliminate perfectly wonderful, acceptable families from fostering or adopting those children.”