- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Senate committee is considering legislation that would establish an experimental foster care program in Kansas open exclusively to adults in stable marriages of at least seven years and with a minimum of one stay-at-home spouse.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1Vl1nnV ) reports that the bill would grant foster parents in the statewide pilot program an exemption from standard licensing applicable to child care facilities.

“I believe there are many families in Kansas that do not step up to help children because they are so limited by the state,” said Republican state Sen. Forrest Knox, who proposed the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Knox’s bill would require foster parents in the trial program to be high school graduates and pass a background check. Participants would also have to enforce a household ban on drinking alcohol and smoking.

The bill would also give foster parents sole discretion to determine schooling for the children in their care as well as limit the program to those active in their communities.

Thomas Witt, executive of the gay rights advocacy group Equality Kansas, is concerned about limiting the program to people who have been in a stable marriage for at least seven years. Kansas same-sex couples were prohibited from marrying or to have out-of-state marriage licenses recognized by the state until last year.

“We believe the seven-year standard may violate equal protection provisions of both the Kansas and United States constitutions,” Witt said. “Native Kansans in committed, long-lasting relationships, who waited patiently for the years, in many cases decades, for marriage equality will be denied access.”


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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