Michigan Law Allows Faith-Based Adoption Agencies to Refuse Service for Gay Couples

April DeBoer, 43, left, and Jayne Rowse, 50, of Hazel Park, Mich., attend Michigan Adoption Day with their family to finalize their fourth adoption of 28-month old Rylee DeBoer-Rowse, on Nov. 25, 2014 at the Oakland County Court House in Pontiac, Mich. April DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse are plaintiffs battling for marriage equality in Michigan. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)
April DeBoer, 43, left, and Jayne Rowse, 50, of Hazel Park, Mich., attend Michigan Adoption Day with their family to finalize their fourth adoption of 28-month old Rylee DeBoer-Rowse, on Nov. 25, 2014 at the Oakland County Court House in Pontiac, Mich. April DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse are plaintiffs battling for marriage equality in Michigan. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)

Faith-based adoption agencies will be allowed to refuse to serve prospective parents, such as same-sex or unmarried couples, if doing so would go against their religious beliefs in a package of bills that Michigan’s governor signed Thursday.

Gov. Rick Snyder said the legislation codifies existing state practice for private agencies with contracts to place children and ensures as many organizations as possible are involved in helping kids be adopted.

The Republican-controlled state Senate sent the bill Wednesday to Snyder as the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of ruling later this month on whether same-sex marriages should be legal nationwide.

The Senate version included a requirement that faith-based adoption agencies provide referrals to other agencies if they refuse service to prospective parents. So the bill went back to the state House where it received a quick concurrence vote, passing 65-44.

Snyder had been coy about whether he would support the bills. Earlier this year he said the adoption bills would need further review and that he’s in favor of children being adopted by “loving families” and “loving parents.” He didn’t specify whether that included same-sex couples.

Michigan. along with Louisiana and Mississippi, already places restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children, according to the Family Equality Council, a Boston-based nonprofit that says it represents 3 million LGBT parents.

On Wednesday, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel, had said the governor would carefully review the bills “through the lens of what will ensure that we are taking care of the most Michigan children, and matching them with their forever families.”

Critics of the bills derided the legislation as state-sanctioned discrimination — especially because many of the faith-based agencies receive state money. But supporters say the new law will help keep all options open for adoptive parents while not forcing the agencies to compromise their principles for fear of legal retaliation or face closure because of a loss of public money.

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SOURCE: Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press

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