This Week in Nondiscrimination: Adoption Battles Rage, History is Made in VT, & NH Nears Finish Line

By Shane Stahl • April 13, 2018 • 4:52 pm

This week, in three states across the country, battles continued over discriminatory adoption legislation that would seek to allow adoption and foster care agencies to refuse placing a child in the home of an LGBTQ person. Meanwhile, a gubernatorial candidate in Vermont made history with her campaign announcement, and New Hampshire is closer than ever to enacting statewide, comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, with a hearing scheduled on their landmark bill this coming Monday. Here are the stories you may have missed for the week of April 8!

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The Granite State is heading toward the finish line with HB 1319, which would add comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender people into state law, as a final committee hearing in the Senate has been scheduled for Monday, April 16 at at 1:30.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, a five person legislative body, will debate the bill on the 16. Regardless of how the committee votes, the bill will still advance to the full Senate for a final vote, which must consider the legislation before May 3.

Previously, HB 1319 was passed through two committees—the House Judiciary and Health and Human Services, both saying HB 1319 Ought to Pass. The bill has also been endorsed by the Children’s Caucus, House Libertarian Caucus, New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and 12 Republican co-sponsors, and on the House floor, passed with a vote of 195-129.

Freedom New Hampshire, the campaign to pass comprehensive protections, has been leading the charge since 2016 to pass this legislation. Freedom For All Americans is a founding and leading member of the campaign.

Freedom New Hampshire will be holding a pre-hearing rally at 12:30 outside the statehouse on the day of the hearing.

OKLAHOMA

This week, SB 1140, a discriminatory adoption bill that would allow agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people (as well as single parents and non-Christians) when considering the placement of a child made it through the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-6. The bill is virtually identical to measures defeated earlier this year in Georgia and currently pending in Colorado.

Section 1 of the bill reads as follows: “To the extent allowed by federal law, no private child placing agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.

Republican Rep. Leslie Osborne introduced an amendment the morning of April 11 which passed, that would deny federal and state funding from agencies that openly discriminate against LGBTQ people. However, this does not solve the overall discrimination issue.

The bill will soon head to the House floor for a full chamber vote.

VERMONT

On Sunday April 8, history was made in Vermont as Christine Hallquist announced her candidacy for governor, becoming the first openly transgender person running as a major party candidate to do so.

“My transgender role, although it will be historic, my wish is that everybody just overlooks that and looks at the policies and my resume and the history of what I’ve done,” she said in her remarks.

Formerly, Hallquist was the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative; among her priorities as governor, Hallquist said she would focus on rural economic development, energy infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Hallquist will face two other candidates in the Democratic primary election in August.

COLORADO

A bill introduced this week, with just a few days left in the Colorado legislative session, by opponents of LGBTQ equal treatment seeks to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people by claiming a religious or moral exemption. This measure is nearly identical to a bill defeated earlier in 2018 in Georgia and one currently pending in Oklahoma.

In addition, funding for the state’s Civil Rights Commission is also up for debate; the institution has led the charge in the Masterpiece Supreme Court case, defending Colorado’s longstanding LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law. Lawmakers will soon vote whether or not to re-authorize funding for the commission. An earlier attempt to dissolve the commission wholly failed in the House.

KANSAS

While legislators won’t return to the Capitol until April 26, a discriminatory adoption bill still awaits lawmakers upon their return to the capitol building.

HB 2481 is still alive in the legislature awaiting one of two outcomes — a conference committee report to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, or a motion to concur, which would bring it to an immediate final vote.

Equality Kansas, the state’s leading LGBTQ equality group, has already successfully negotiated with lawmakers to remove language that would have allowed agencies to claim religious or moral exemptions when it comes to placement of a child. Currently, the language up for debate involves taxpayer funding for privately funded adoption agencies that openly discriminate against LGBTQ people. There is strong bipartisan agreement that taxpayer money should not be used to discriminate against those same taxpayers,

Equality Kansas continues to urge voters to urge their lawmakers to voice their opposition to the bill. Our thanks to them for continuing the work to prevent discrimination throughout the Sunflower State.


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