Controversial debate over foster families in Legislature

Posted By: Sarah Fili

A controversial debate at the capitol Wednesday as lawmakers took up the issue of foster care and discrimination. Right now in committee, there’s a bill that would protect faith based foster organizations from legal action if they turn people away based on their sincerely held religious beliefs.

"Christian Heritage recruits those families that match our beliefs, and that’s not discriminatory, that’s just because that’s who we are and we have legal rights to do so,” Brad Brown, Christian Heritage, said.

Supporters say this bill will help them keep their doors open, by not forcing them to go against their religion.

“We don’t discriminate towards anyone and just because there’s a protected class over here I don’t think it’s fair to discriminate against those of us who hold sincerely held religious beliefs. Because that’s what it feels like,” Brown said.

Opponents say this bill makes it so those organizations can deny LGBT families, with no legal repercussions. They say, these organizations get funding from all taxpayers, not just those that fit with their religious beliefs. One couple says the bill will undo the hard work they’ve done to become foster parents.

"Gay couples or straight couples that were living in the same household that weren’t married weren’t allowed to be foster parents. So we fought that for 7 years and like Joel said we just won that,” Todd Vesely and Joel Busch, a gay couple who fosters, said.

They say as long as there’s a safe and loving household, religion and sexuality shouldn’t matter.

"We fought too hard to get this, the kids that we have, the three boys. Their parents were very against it when they found out two gay parents were watching their kids they were very against it they voiced their opinions. Now they realize one’s walking one is talking now,” Busch said.

This bill was met with strong opposition from members of the committee, many of them holding personal ties to people it would directly affect, and members of the LGBT community. Right now, it doesn’t seem likely the bill will make it to the legislative floor.