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Children’s Home To Sever Ky. Ties

June 29, 2000

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A Baptist agency serving for abused and neglected children will sever ties with the state over the home’s policy not to employ homosexuals.

The decision by the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children means the state must find new homes for almost 300 children who are wards of the state.

The state funds the care of all but 11 children at the eight shelters and ranches run by the agency, which might have to lay off half of its 465 workers. Baptist Homes, an independent agency of the Southern Baptist Convention, also provides youth and family counseling.

Baptist Homes fired a lesbian social worker in 1998. A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union is still pending.

The state offered the agency a new $12 million state contract that would have required it to take financial responsibility for discrimination lawsuits resulting from its policy. The contract also said the state could stop referring children there at any time.

The Baptist Homes executive committee voted unanimously last week to accept the deal but rethought its decision Wednesday, after a state official said in Tuesday’s Courier-Journal that she expected the state would stop referring children to the agency.

Baptist Homes president Bill Smithwick said the board believed it had no reason to participate in a ``charade.″

``We cannot believe that the state government is more worried about being politically correct than teaching our children family values,″ Smithwick said.

The state official _ Viola Miller, secretary of the Cabinet for Families and Children _ did not return a phone call Thursday morning.

John Goldberg, a cabinet attorney, said the state is disappointed to see the 30-year relationship end.

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