Faith-based agencies will now be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples and unwed couples in Michigan. The law comes with a group of bills Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law on June 11.
The Republican-dominated state Senate sent the bill to Snyder on June 10. The decision came after the bill was put on the Senate’s agenda at the last minute, reported the Detroit Free Press. It passed and the House quickly gave its support. Liberal group Progress Michigan claims the speedy passage was simple discrimination sanctioned and paid for by the state.
The move comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling later in June on whether states' bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
Michigan Democrats said that the timing of the Senate action is clear. They had tried to include amendments that would require faith-based agencies to provide written versions of their policies to potential clients, on their websites, and in their facilities. They wanted to prohibit adoption agencies that receive more than $500,000 in state funds from being able to use the religious objection argument. They also wanted to allow second-parent adoptions for unwed couples. Every amendment introduced by a Democrat failed.
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Snyder is facing heavy criticism, because he had not made it apparent whether he would sign the bill or not. He had said, “We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.”
Michigan, Louisiana and Mississippi already have restrictions in place on same-sex couples adopting children.
The American Civil Liberties Union is looking to challenge the law on constitutional grounds. Attorney Brooke Tucker said the ACLU is "looking at our legal options and especially looking to hear from people who will be adversely affected by this."
In the 2014-15 fiscal year, $19.9 million in state and federal funds went towards supporting agencies for foster care and adoption services, according to Michigan's Department of Human Services. Almost $10 million of those funds went to faith-based agencies which would be protected under the religious objection bill, USA Today reports.
“The Constitution doesn’t allow discrimination based on religion and you can’t do that with state funds,” Tucker stated.
Sen. Coleman Young, a Democrat from Detroit, said, “These RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) adoption bills are the most egregious example of religious conservatism run amok in our government.” He went on, “Children are in desperate need of stable and loving homes. And today, we’re slashing those opportunities because of archaic, closed-minded thinking.”
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