NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

LINCOLN — A state senator wants Nebraska's attorney general to weigh in on the constitutionality of a legislative proposal to shield faith-based groups that assist with foster care placements and adoptions.

Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward sent a letter this week to Attorney General Doug Peterson seeking an opinion on Legislative Bill 975.

The bill would bar the state from taking action against foster care and adoption agencies that refuse to provide, facilitate or refer for services based on the agencies' "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Several organizations that support the measure have said they work only with married, opposite-sex couples who are actively involved in Christian churches.

Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln has said the measure violates federal law because it would allow agencies that receive public funds to discriminate on the basis of religion.

This week, Morfeld formally requested that state and federal officials review the practices of the groups and cut off their public funding if it is determined that they have discriminated against applicants who want to become foster parents.

In his letter to the attorney general, Kolterman said he hopes Peterson's office can clarify the issue.

"In light of these threatening legal claims and accusations, I find it imperative to seek a formal legal opinion from the Office of the Attorney General regarding these claimed violations of state, federal and constitutional law and regulation," Kolterman wrote.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9587, joe.duggan@owh.com

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