Archive for Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas don’t want to be bound by anti-discrimination laws and policies

Melissa Penny, of Wichita, sits with four of her five children during a legislative committee hearing after she and her husband, Devin, testified in favor of a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies couldn't be punished for refusing to place children with parents who don't share the agencies' religious values.

Melissa Penny, of Wichita, sits with four of her five children during a legislative committee hearing after she and her husband, Devin, testified in favor of a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies couldn't be punished for refusing to place children with parents who don't share the agencies' religious values.

March 20, 2018

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— Prompted by lawsuits and other administrative actions in several states, faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas are now pushing for a bill that would grant them legal immunity if they refuse to place children with families that do not share their religious beliefs.

"The easiest way I can describe this measure for you today is protection of conscience, just like many other laws at the federal and state level that protect conscience," Austin Vincent, an adoption attorney in Topeka, told a legislative committee on Tuesday.

The House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Committees held back-to-back hearings Tuesday on identical bills known as the Adoption Protection Act.

Melissa Penny, of Wichita, sits with four of her five children during a legislative committee hearing after she and her husband, Devin, testified in favor of a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies couldn't be punished for refusing to place children with parents who don't share the agencies' religious values.

Melissa Penny, of Wichita, sits with four of her five children during a legislative committee hearing after she and her husband, Devin, testified in favor of a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies couldn't be punished for refusing to place children with parents who don't share the agencies' religious values.

House Bill 2687 and Senate Bill 401 would exempt child-placement agencies from being involved in placing a child in a particular home if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.

The bills also provide that those agencies could not be denied licenses, permits or authorizations due to their refusal to take part in certain placements.

Nor could they be denied grants or contracts or be subject to fines or other administrative actions for refusing to take part in certain placements.

There are currently no laws or policies in place that restrict private faith-based agencies that do not receive state funding from placing children in homes based on whatever criteria they choose, as long as they don't violate federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

But supporters of the bills argued that Kansas policy could change at any time with, for example, a change in a governor's administration or through administrative actions of officials in state agencies.

The bills would apply to both adoption services as well as placement of children in foster homes.

The bills are the latest in a series of so-called "religious freedom" bills that have stirred controversy in the Legislature in recent years, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

Critics have argued that such legislation would legalize discrimination against certain classes of people, particularly same-sex couples and transgender individuals.

But Vincent tried to pre-emptively dismiss arguments from opponents.

He told the House committee that faith-based agencies would sooner shut down than have to participate in placements that violate their religious beliefs.

"With that understanding," he said, "opposition to this measure is evidence of a few things. It shows intent. The only intent is to shut down those agencies that deny birth parents the assurance of placements with people of their own faith."

Deborah Snapp, executive director of Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas, said her agency would shut down if it had to place children in homes that did not share the organization's religious beliefs.

"By our conscience, we would not be able to continue to participate in adoption practice," she said.

But Rep. Stephanie Clayton, R-Overland Park, challenged that idea.

"Let's say that you have a child that needs a placement," Clayton said to Snapp. "Is it your sincerely held religious belief that that child is better off in no home at all rather than be in the home of a couple that violates your conscience?"

Snapp responded by saying the philosophy of Catholic Charities is for the birth parent to decide which family to place a child with.

The committees also heard from some adoptive parents, including Devin and Melissa Penny, of Wichita, who recently adopted twins through a faith-based agency in their community, who said that adopting through such an agency was an expression of their religious faith.

Both committees plan to continue their hearings Wednesday when they will hear from opponents of the bills.

Comments

Aaron McGrogor 2 months ago

They would rather shut down than treat everyone with respect. And who determines what children go through that agency?

Jillian Andrews 2 months ago

That's exactly why no state should contract with religious organizations for social services. If they can't serve ALL Kansans, then they don't need taxpayer money.

William D'Armond 2 months ago

Adoption agencies are usually private organizations not public as it stated in the article. Meaning they have no governmental affiliation. Not all adoption agencies are Christian based. If you do not want to support them, adopt from a different agency if their beliefs do not align with your vice forcing them to shift their beliefs to align with yours.

Aaron McGrogor 2 months ago

"There are currently no laws or policies in place that restrict private faith-based agencies that do not receive state funding from placing children in homes based on whatever criteria they choose, as long as they don't violate federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin."

I don't really see the problem here then.

Ralph Reed 2 months ago

Another example of the "Oppressed Christians" going to court in an attempt to make sure everyone else is bound by their fictitious canon law. They would rather place a child (or children) with a family of abusers that with a loving same-sex family. Needs and interests of the child be damned; if you're not the right kind of Christian (to start with), then don't even talk to us.

Also, the "Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas" should remove the would "Charities" from their title as they're not in any way charitable. A question for them, would they allow a child to be placed with a Catholic family in which one or both parents had been divorced and remarried?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 months ago

So given a choice they would rather give kids to this opposite sex couple (see photo) than to a same sex couple? It worked out so well when they gave a whole bunch of kids to the Topeka jerks (link below), instead of the gay couple who wanted to adopt. These churches need to get out of the adoption business. Adoptions should be made in the best interest of the child, not by some religious hatred.

http://www.khi.org/news/article/topeka-child-abuse-case-prompts-new-questions-about-gay-adoptions

MerriAnnie Smith 2 months ago

This is why the founding fathers did not make America a branch of a religion to begin with.

If you find that your beliefs don't match up with reasonable laws, then YOU have a problem. You do not have a right to dump YOUR problems on others. Get out of the business if you can't do it in a legal and fair and honest way for all citizens. We don't need you or your business.

Anybody remember our old history lessons on how people came to this country to escape religious persecution in England? Yes, Britain had religious laws. Therefore, America was born.

Now these nutcases want to go back to religious persecution?

The hell with them. We WILL fight them every step of the way and God then will judge them someday for judging others and persecuting others.

William D'Armond 2 months ago

It sounds as though you are trying to persecute them based on their belief system. The freedom of religion was established to allow citizens to follow what ever religious belief they may want to, and to not be oppressed because of it. What makes the freedoms we have great, is that we as Americans have a choice. You can be one of many Christian denominations, Muslim, Buddhist, a Scientologist, Hindu, Morman or many others that I have left out without fear that the person who has an opposing belief system will not oppress you.

The persecution that you bring up is by forcing your beliefs on them and their business because of your feelings, not theirs. If you were forced to do something you didn't believe in; which I am sure there are things you would be uncomfortable with; what would you do? Fold and go out of business of stand up and fight for what you believe in?

If they instill there beliefs into their business practices and you do not agree, choose to use another service as a way to fulfill your moral obligation to the rest of society. This is not the only adoption agency in the state or the US for that matter. Exercise your right to chose to not support their business instead of bashing them for how they believe. There may be people out there that want to use them because the are Christian based.

Aaron McGrogor 2 months ago

So we should just do away with all anti-discrimination policies, right? After all, they force on people the idea that everyone should be treated equally based on a few people's feelings.

Greg Cooper 2 months ago

"William D'Armond 1 day, 2 hours ago It sounds as though you are trying to persecute them based on their belief system."

No, William, MerriAnnie is simply applying the rule of law to them. There is no provision for favoritism between "Christian" and non-religious adoption agencies in law. That's not persecution but the exact opposite: inclusivism. Changing that requires a Constitutional change. Care to go there?

Jonathan Fox 2 months ago

I understand that LJW has given in along with the vast majority of news organizations and have resorted to pandering to its audience with biased spoon feeding of news they want to hear in order to stay afloat but this is one for the ages.

It still boggles the mind how people are unwilling to accept the scientifically and outright biologically supported statement that children raised in a mom and dad household is the absolute best environment to raise children. Why we should force religious organizations to defy this logic in order to further a political agenda is beyond reasonable.

The only way you can reduce the objective of these faith-affiliated organizations to placement solely based on religion is to distort or fail to ask good questions. These organizations want the best for these children which is not to be placed in same-sex union situations. Given the state of our political situation of shouting down debate on gender issues; that would cause me to want to retain the right to place children in the best possible environment too.

Daniel Kennamore 2 months ago

No exactly, Johnathan.

I'm familiar with most the studies you are referencing, but in the vast majority of those they are comparing apples to oranges. Most of the studies compare outcomes of children who stayed with their biological parents to children in adoptions or second marriages. Divorce/adoption/etc all have negative outcomes on a child all on their own.

Studies that play fair (re: compare adopted children to adopted children) are not conclusive in the slightest that there is any difference at all...and even if there is it's way outweighed by other factors (couples income, education, etc.).

Even still, until every single child in need of adoption has a family to go to we'll have to accept things that are not 100% perfect...and being placed with a gay couple is miles better than sitting in the foster system for a few more years.

Kendall Simmons 2 months ago

But that's simply NOT true!!!

For you to proclaim that there's a "scientifically and outright biologically supported statement that children raised in a mom and dad household is the absolute best environment to raise children" is utter NONSENSE!!!

Here's a Columbia study: "What does the scholarly research say about the wellbeing of children with gay or lesbian parents?" It covers 79 research studies on the topic...and link to ALL of them so you can read them for yourself. 75 of the 79 do NOT agree with you.

http://whatweknow.law.columbia.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-wellbeing-of-children-with-gay-or-lesbian-parents/

MerriAnnie Smith 2 months ago

And it even makes sense when you set your mind to be realistic. Kids are happy where they are treated well. It has nothing to do with gay or not-gay. Many children are miserable with non-gay parents, and often they're in grave danger as well.

Children will choose, if given a choice, to live where the things that make THEM happy are supplied.

But these far right religious people don't really care whether a child is HAPPY or not. They only care about their judgmental and biased causes.

Here, once again, are religious people who are lying about studies just to get their way. Lying... I thought that was also unChristian.

Brett McCabe 2 months ago

List of whiniest people on the planet.....

  1. ELNA
  2. Orange Flubber
  3. All "Christian" based anythings
  4. Missouri fans who want to schedule KU
  5. WSU fans who want to schedule KU
  6. All purple pussycats
  7. Assault-Rifle owners
  8. All members of Chambers' of Commerce
  9. The 1% 10.The 1%'s Children 11.White Men

Yes....this one went to 11 because it's better than 10.

Louis Kannen 2 months ago

"...children raised in a mom and dad household is the absolute best environment to raise children." Jonathan, thank you for your spot-on, common sense opinion. Not surprisingly, you've caught Larry??Laura-ville's hissy-fitting, "our way or the highway" lgbqxyz?? folks with their "not sure which knickers" in a binding, convoluted twist...

Kendall Simmons 1 month, 4 weeks ago

No. It's not the "absolute best environment". I say this as an adopted child whose adopted mother was a brutal, vicious sadist and whose adopted father was a pedophile. But, hey...we went to church every Sunday, so that must make it all right, huh?

There's NOTHING "common sense" about Jonathan's opinion. It's just what he...and you...WANT to believe.

Don Brennaman 2 months ago

I just want to be able to go to the liquor store on Easter! Why is someone else's religion denying me the right to do so?

Gary Stussie 2 months ago

Always interesting to see the regular crowd respond with name calling and vile to anyone that does not believe precisely the way they do ... do they even stop to think that the "beliefs" they espouse are 15 years old and the beliefs they condemn date back 2000 years?

Outraged because others are imposing their strongly held beliefs on society, so let's impose our strongly held beliefs on them ... the liberal way!.

Church organizations have done great things for many people, yet if they don't drink the liberal kool-aid they get a double helping of wacko wrath!

If church adoption organizations have problems with gay parents, non-church adoption organizations will fill the void.

Richard Heckler 2 months ago

"favor of a bill that would guarantee that faith-based adoption agencies couldn't be punished for refusing to place children with parents who don't share the agencies' religious values."

  1. Now tax exempt organizations are given legislative authority to discriminate ......

  2. This authority coming from the body that has wrecked school budgets throughout the state .....

Both i and 2 indicate decisions that are neither acceptable nor well thought out.

Louis Kannen 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Kendall, your profoundly sad and completely unforgivable adoptive childhood experiences should never have occurred, of that there is no question. As a parent, my concern as well as that of so many other loving parent's is specific to the overriding issue of raising any child within the confines of a biologically and psychologically unnatural, same-sex environment.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So you don't think Kendall would have preferred to be raised by two caring same sex parents who were atheists, because you think that's unnatural? But having brutal opposite sex parents who attend Church is okay, because that somehow is natural?

Also I know a lot of women and a few men who have raised their children on their own. And their kids have turned out great. Adoption agencies need to look at what is best for the kid. An opposite sex couple who just wants free labor on their farm, or a single parent with extended family support that would lovingly raise a child? An opposite sex couple who believes beating a child is good, or a same sex couple who know how to guide a child into good behavior, and who will give the children the strength to stand up to haters, like you, who will treat them like dirt, because their parents are gay? A "good" Christian opposite sex couple who adopt 10+ kids, so they can get all the adoption support money and not have to get a job, but can't deal with the emotional baggage that these children bring, or 5 gay couples, who adopt 2 children each and are willing to get these kids all the attention and treatment they need to recover from the traumas that got them into the system in the first place? A rich couple who hire a nanny to raise the child, or a poorer family who spends time with the child.

The end decision should not be based on your hatred of gay people, or single people, and based on your religion. It should be based on what is best for the child. Louis, I think it's pretty evident that your religion doesn't even come close to having exclusive rights to morality. And I can give you all kinds of examples of Christians being horribly immoral.

Gary Stussie 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So much anger Dorothy!

Your "Do you want this ... or That" contribution does not address the issue. You insist on mandating how religion-base adoption agencies MUST act. They, and the people they support, have a right to their beliefs. They are not trying to prevent other adoption agencies from providing services to potential parents of any persuasion.

Seems to me that if someone giving up a child feels as you do, they would not work through a religion-based adoption agency.

You demand tolerance from everyone and yet seem outrageously intolerant of anyone who does not believe as you do.

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