Lawmakers in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas have approved a legislation that protects the rights of religious adoption agencies in declining the placement of children in LGBT homes.
Members of the Oklahoma House passed the legislation by a vote of 56–21 on Thursday. Kansas representatives, on the other hand, approved the bill hours later by a vote of 63–58, while Kansas Senators also signed on the bill by a vote of 24–15 on Friday morning.
The legislations will still require the signatures of the governors to become full-fledged state laws. Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma has not stated whether she would sign or veto the legislation but Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has openly supported the proposal in his state, according to the Associated Press.
"Catholic charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities," Coyler said. "I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes," he added.
Both state bills, however, could have little impact in changing the adoption process as some faith-based agencies, especially in Kansas, have already been declining gay couples or single LGBT people who want to adopt children. The measure also does not prevent the LGBT community from having kids through adoption, but it provides religious adoption agencies legal protection in cases where requests are rejected.
LGBT supporters argue that the legislation would increase incidence of discrimination. Freedom Oklahoma LGBT rights group president Troy Stevenson also criticized the lawmakers for the decision. He specifically cited the real reason the bill received much support for approval in his state and it's because Sen. Greg Treat, the bill's author, is set to become the next Senate leader.
Supporters of the legislation, however, argued that activist groups that don't have religious beliefs oppose the bill because it wants the government to sanction people or organizations that abide by their beliefs.
"We have been alarmed and outraged to learn of threats to the religious liberty and moral convictions of faith-based agencies in other parts of the country," the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma said in its statement during the bill's deliberation in March. Other faith group leaders also said that religious adoption agencies in some states were forced to close because of new rules that go against their religious convictions.