A foster mother who has helped dozens of children and adopted 11 kids has expressed her objections to states that punish faith-based adoption groups who oppose for religious reasons to referring children to same-sex couples.
Karen Strachan, a foster mother who has been helping children over the past 20 years, wants to continue helping kids through the assistance of her "trusted partners and friends" at the Michigan-based St. Vincent's Catholic Charities.
At a Heritage Foundation event held Wednesday, Strachan explained that she did not believe that if St. Vincent's were to close "other agencies could just step in and fill in the gap."
"That is not true. Their foundational bylaws and the way that they view humanity has a unique impact. It would be devastating if St. Vincent closed their doors," said Strachan.
"Their faith-based environment make a tangible difference in the way that they love, and care for, and nurture their families."
Strachan, who also is state certified to train foster parents, explained that many of those she has trained told her that St. Vincent's was a major help and inspiration to them.
"Personally, I cannot imagine continuing as a foster parent without the loving support or the faith-based relationship and foundation of St. Vincent," Strachan continued.
Strachan's remarks were part of a Heritage panel event titled "Keep Kids First: Prioritizing the Needs of Children in Adoption and Foster Care."
In addition to Strachan, Family Policy Alliance of Kansas President Eric Teetsel spoke to those gathered, documenting his experiences successfully campaigning for Kansas to pass legislation protecting the conscience rights of faith-based adoption agencies.
During his remarks, Teetsel argued that despite what progressive activists were claiming, bills like the one Kansas recently enacted are not about LGBT rights.
"The legal right of same-sex couples to adopt is in 50 states, including Kansas. That existed before our bill and it exists now, after our bill has been signed by the governor," said Teetsel.
Other speakers included Strachan's adopted son Martin; Emilie Kao, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center; and Shannon Royce, director at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In recent years, some states have enacted laws that require all adoption agencies to refer children to same-sex households, even if this contradicts their faith-based moral objections, which has compelled some adoption agencies to stop providing services in those states.
For example, in 2011 three Catholic dioceses in Illinois ended their partnership with the state in response to a civil unions law passed earlier that year mandating that same-sex couples be included in their program.
The House Committee on Ways and Means is currently considering a bill known as the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which was introduced last year that would prevent federal and state governments from punishing adoption agencies that religiously object to performing certain child referrals.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to House Committee Chair Kevin Brady earlier this month in support of the bill, with signees of the letter including the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
"The Inclusion Act prevents the federal government and states that receive federal funds for child welfare services from excluding adoption and foster care agencies because of their beliefs about what is best for each child," stated the letter.
"The Inclusion Act keeps kids first because it empowers a larger number of child welfare providers to recruit and train more loving families that can provide loving homes for more vulnerable children."
Groups like the LGBT organization the Human Rights Campaign have spoken out against the Inclusion Act, arguing in a statement last year that the bill if enacted would "undermine the government's ability to ensure child welfare organizations make decisions based on the best interest of children."
"[The Inclusion Act] would override state non-discrimination statutes and effectively allow taxpayer funds to be used to discriminate," stated the HRC.
"The legislation uses the pretense of religious freedom to advance rather than bring an end to discrimination in the placement of children for adoption or foster care."