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Will Kansas ban
gay adoptions?

Will Kansas ban
gay adoptions?


Kansas legislator Steve Huebert wants to review policies allowing adoption of children in foster care.

A conservative legislator in Topeka, Kan., wants to review policies allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children in foster care, an issue gay-rights advocates feared eventually would arise after voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

State representative Steve Huebert, a Valley Center Republican, told the Lawrence Journal-World he is pursuing the issue on behalf of a constituent worried that her granddaughter might be adopted by a lesbian and raised by a lesbian couple.

State law is silent on whether gays and lesbians can adopt foster children, who generally are in state custody because of allegations of abuse or neglect. "This is an issue that needs to be examined," Huebert said. "Things need to be spelled out better than they are."

Legislative leaders plan to meet Monday to decide what issues lawmakers will study this summer and fall before their session starts January 9. Huebert wants a study of gay adoptions.

But some leaders are cool to the idea. "This isn't an issue that has much momentum that I can tell," said senate majority leader Derek Schmidt, a Republican from Independence. "It's not something I've thought about." And house minority leader Dennis McKinney, a Democrat from Greensburg, said, "I wasn't aware that it was a problem."

Last year, 627 foster children were adopted, and about half as many children were placed in homes through private adoptions. The state doesn't keep statistics on how many gays and lesbians adopt. The state doesn't allow any unmarried couple to adopt foster children. However, unmarried individuals can, and the question of sexual orientation isn't asked, said Mike Deines, a spokesman for the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

In April voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions for gay couples. The amendment declares the only legal marriage is Kansas as a union between one man and one woman. Even before the vote, gay-rights advocates suggested a ban on gay adoptions, patterned after policies in Texas and Florida, was on the agenda of amendment supporters.

"This is all about discrimination and hating gays--that's all it is," said Bruce Ney, chairman of Kansans for Fairness, a group formed to oppose the amendment. Ney also said a discussion about gay adoptions is part of a strategy to motivate conservatives to turn out voters against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius's reelection next year. Sebelius, a Democrat, hasn't said she's opposed to a ban on gay and lesbian adoptions, but said she'd hesitate to enact any policy that prevents a child from finding a loving home. Spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said the administration hasn't looked at the issue.

Huebert, who supported the marriage amendment, said a review of gay adoptions isn't related: "All I'm saying is that this is an issue that ought to be looked at in a thoughtful way." (AP)

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