LANSING – Legislative Democrats are introducing legislation today that would modify the adoption discrimination bills signed into law earlier this year. The new laws allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse placements with same-sex couples, unmarried couples and any other couple or person based on the agency’s religious beliefs. Bills introduced this week have bipartisan support and would change the law by allowing the state to remove funding for agencies that use their own faith as a reason to discriminate against otherwise qualified applicants.
“Creating a legal loophole that allowed adoption agencies to discriminate was a mistake,” said Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “When it comes to adoption, what’s good for the child should always be the primary concern. Instead, the adoption discrimination laws put the interests of the agency ahead of the child. That was wrong, and it’s time to fix it.”
The adoption discrimination bills were signed into law in early June. Later that month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that marriage is a right available to same-sex as well as straight couples. In addition, Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that it is considering avenues to challenge the constitutionality of the adoption discrimination laws, which were signed into law despite public outcry against them.
“I am Catholic, I am divorced, and I am the proud father to my adopted son,” state Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-Meridian Twp.) said. “What a child needs most is a safe home with a family who loves them. Michigan has 13,000 children in foster care. No church, and no state, should stand between them and a forever home.”
Bills in the package are House Bill 4840, sponsored by Rep. Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park); HB 4841 sponsored by Rep. Hoadley; and HB 4842, sponsored by Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit).