Faith-based agencies in Kansas will likely be allowed to provide adoption or foster care services for the state even if they refuse to place children in homes that conflict with their "sincerely held” religious beliefs, including those with gay, lesbian or transgender parents.
The Adoption Protection Act passed in an early-morning vote today in the Kansas state Senate after a night of debate. It had already passed in the state House and will be sent to the governor in the next 10 days for his signature in order to become law.
Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Republican, intends to sign the bill.
"Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies are key to the fabric of our communities,” Colyer said in a statement. “I look forward to signing this bill because it increases the opportunities for needy children to find loving homes.”
Opponents of the measure, including gay rights groups, consider the bill discriminatory.
Zeke Stokes, the vice president of programs at GLAAD, issued a statement slamming the bill.
"This is a slap in the face to children and families across the state, and lawmakers who voted for this bill should be ashamed of themselves," Stokes said in the statement to ABC News.
"Business leaders, youth advocates, child welfare organizations, faith leaders, and fair-minded Kansans have all spoken out against this dangerous bill and we join them in urging Governor Colyer to stop this misguided attempt to write discrimination into law," he said.
Several other states have similar laws in place. Oklahoma passed similar legislation Thursday that is now also headed for approval by the state's governor, The Kansas City Star reported.
Chuck Johnson, the president of the National Council on Adoptions, which has not taken a public stance on the issue, said that despite such laws, which inherently affect only faith-based adoption agencies, "adoption by gay and lesbian families is happening in all 50 states."
And even in states with similar laws, Johnson said, many gay and lesbian couples are able to adopt children after becoming foster parents. He cited an increasing need for foster families partly because of the opioid epidemic that is resulting in more children being removed from their families or left orphaned in need of care.
"The LGBT community has found opportunity in the world of foster care and foster care adoption," he said.