Kern's "Inclusive" child welfare bill excludes LGBT, disadvantages children

Sally Kern's bill threatens LGBT ability to adopt. (Gayly Image)

(Oklahoma City, OK) – Same-sex parents gave The Gayly their perspectives on state Rep. Sally Kern’s bill HB 2428, which could cause same-sex couples to be refused as foster care or adoptive parents.

HB 2428, which would be dubbed the “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2016,” is meant to "prevent the state from refusing to contract with a child welfare service provider, if that provider has declined, or will decline, to provide, facilitate or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with…the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions….”

Kim Willems, who runs a number of programs for homeless LGBT youth in Oklahoma City, has an adopted nine-year-old son with her ex-wife. She has sat in on committee meetings regarding Kern’s bill, and she “absolutely” believes that HB 2428 is targeting LGBT people.

“I’ve worked in mental health and with children for 20 years and I can’t think of one gay couple whose children I had to take care of [because of bad parenting].

“I would love to say [to Kern] to sit and talk to my son. He said [about the bill], ‘Is that going to have anything to do with us?’… ‘If I was still in foster care would that affect us?’ I said, ‘Yeah, they wouldn’t want us to be your mommies because they think we’re bad because we’re gay.’ And he said, ‘Well that’s just silly.’”

The wisdom of a nine-year-old is astounding.

So, is there any difference between same-sex parents and straight?

“I think the only difference is that people are looking at us so closely. Well, it’s not like I wake up thinking I have to be Super Mom today because I’m a lesbian – but there’s underlying emotions about that. There’s more pressure in public places because I know I’m going to be judged based on sexual orientation. Otherwise, no,” Willems said.

A resounding “No” was also heard when speaking with Penny Ridenour, who is the founder and director of another program for homeless teens. Her program is also on the verge of opening an overnight shelter for 18 to 20-year-olds.

In her words, Kern’s bill does worse than target LGBT people.

“I think it’s targeting the children that are in need of adoption. That’s who it’s hurting, not LGBT people. She’s taking away possible families, and LGBT couples that would make great homes for kids needing to be adopted.

“She’s taking away options for kids themselves.”

This bill reduces the number of parents capable of caring for, or adopting a child, when the state needs every qualified parent it can find.

See next month’s print edition of The Gayly for the full story.

The Gayly – 2/25/2016 @ 2:45 p.m. CST