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Michigan Allows Adoption Agencies To Decline Referrals Based On Religious Beliefs

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Michigan Allows Adoption Agencies to Decline Referrals Based on Religious Beliefs

Late last week, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that will allow state-contracted, faith-based adoption agencies to decline adoption referrals based on religious beliefs.

Passing the Republican-controlled senate practically along party lines Wednesday, the law essentially states that any faith-based adoption agency, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services – both of whom comprise 25 to 30 percent of the Michigan’s foster care adoptions – can refuse couples without fear of government reproach so long as they have a “sincerely held religious belief” and refer the applicant to another agency or to a state website listing other providers. This can include same-sex couples, non-married couples, or singles looking to adopt. Approximately 25 percent of Michigan’s 105 licensed adoption and foster care agencies are faith-based.

Predictably, the law has already drawn the ire of gay activists and their allies, saying the law paves the way for discrimination against same-sex couples.

According to the ACLU of Michigan, adoption agencies, regardless of their religious beliefs, must violate their consciences because they are “receiving state money to perform a public function.” “There is nothing about this shameful legislation that helps vulnerable kids find homes,” said ACLU deputy director Rana Elmir. 

The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, also responded unfavorably to the legislation: “Governor Rick Snyder has proven today that he has utter disdain for the welfare of children in Michigan and that he cares only about empowering backwards discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This legislation keeps children in need out of the loving homes they deserve, and it sets this great state back decades.”

Snyder and his supporters have defended the legislation, arguing that giving faith-based organizations some room to operate according to their consciences allows for greater efficiency. More

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