By Jeromiah Taylor
While the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage was an important victory, the fight for the rights of same-sex couples is ongoing and more urgent than ever. Despite the thousands of children adrift in the Kansas foster care program a Kansas senator named Forrest Knox has drafted legislation discriminating against potential same-sex foster parents.
The bill, SB158, outlines a ridiculously rigid set of criteria for any would be foster parents and states that heterosexual couples should be paid higher and generally favored over same-sex parents. The bill also requires that only one parent work outside of the house, that no alcohol or tobacco be used inside the house and gives the ability to choose whether or not the child attends public school to the adoptive parent.
Not only is the bill and its dubious innovator riddled with hypocrisy, it demonstrates flagrant homophobia and is essentially counterintuitive in that it worsens the plight of Kansas’ foster children.
Senator Knox, who has adopted four children himself, assumes the moral high ground and claims that his legislation is motivated by genuine concern.
These claims are somewhat paradoxical considering his other stances on foster homes. When asked about his feelings on firearm possession in foster homes, Knox has stated that he feels no more legal action is required to secure firearms in foster homes. It is noteworthy that this is the same man that advocated for the legislation which allowed concealed weapons on campus.
Apparently some members of the state legislature believe that an arbitrarily chosen, heterosexual family in possession of poorly regulated firearms is inherently more trustworthy than a well-considered, same-sex couple.
The senator, in true hypocritical fashion, has ignored criticism from several sources including Wichita social worker Connie Mayes who says that the bill’s lax rules about private schooling rid children of an important resource and that the moralistic family blueprint which Knox advocates does not promise protection.
Clearly Senator Knox is more concerned with institutionalizing a lifestyle than he is protecting the rights and safety of vulnerable children.
The bill’s untrustworthy and prejudicial nature is worsened by its obvious practical flaw. According to the latest data supplied by the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) there are some 5,800 foster children living in “out of home placement” and 350 waiting to be adopted.
According to Knox, the state government should respond to a considerable indigent population by limiting its opportunities for permanent placement. Evidently it is preferable that foster children should remain in the system rather than receive care and shelter from the hands of an approved and qualified same-sex couple.
Once again the Kansas state government has proven that it prioritizes conservative values over the welfare of its constituents and has failed to represent the diversity of the Kansas people. LGBTQIA activists and allies alike should continue the discourse and criticism surrounding this harmful proposed legislation and work to halt SB158 in its tracks. l