A few minutes before the Kansas Legislature officially gaveled in, a special committee approved a pre-session report instructing the Kansas Department for Children and Families to research family structure.
The special committee on foster care approved a recommendation that “peer-reviewed, evidence-based factors regarding family structure be considered a high priority” in foster care placements. Democrats warned that this language was meant to enable discrimination against same-sex couples as foster care parents, a charge that majority Republicans did not entirely rebut.
The committee heard testimony in November from Donald Paul Sullins, a controversial sociologist and Catholic priest, who has published a study claiming that children raised by same-sex couples undergo emotional problems later in life. Sullins’ research has been disputed by the American Psychological Association.
Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, the committee’s chair, did not explicitly bring up same-sex couples, but said that the purpose of the recommendation was to ensure that DCF and foster care contractors had a justification when they decided to place a child in a home.
However, after Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, raised concern that the intention was to allow discrimination, Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, responded that discrimination of foster care parents should not be a concern. He argued that the state’s only concern should be the best interest of the child and said that maybe the state should discriminate in some cases.
The vote comes at a time when DCF already faces allegations that it has been showing a preference to heterosexual couples in foster care and adoption cases. Another committee is expected to vote on a proposal to audit the agency later this week.