Religion

Agencies in Michigan May Soon Be Allowed To Deny Adoptions to Families Based on Religious Freedom

| by Dominic Kelly
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A new bill in Michigan, if it passes, may prove to be a big hurdle for same-sex couples and others who are looking to adopt children.

The bill, which is backed by the Michigan Catholic Conference, will allow agencies to refuse adoptions on the grounds of religious freedom. The new bill will also ensure that adoption agencies who use religious freedom as a reason for refusing adoptions still get state funding, regardless of their discriminatory stance.

Many opponents of the bill say that it is not only wrong to deny people the chance to adopt children, but more importantly, it puts the kids who need families at another disadvantage.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Jeanne Howard, director of the Center for Adoption Studies at Illinois State University, says that this bill would cause harm to the children.

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“I’m not approaching this from an equal protection or parental advocacy perspective,” said Howard to the Detroit Free Press. “I’m approaching it from the perspective of what children need. I know opponents of gay adoption think they’re protecting kids by not allowing them to be raised in such a family. But a lot of these kids have no family. We want to have every break go in favor of the kids who need help. When you create obstacles that limit the supply of adoptive parents, you are abandoning some of the most fragile children in Michigan to the vagaries of an overburdened foster care system.”

Agencies have actually been permitted to refuse adoptions on religious grounds for a long time, but this bill will make it a formal law. Many organizations, including the ACLU, are outspoken against this bill because they feel it is discriminatory, but supporters say that it is an adoption agency’s right to refuse their services to people if they feel it violates that religious and moral code.

“A lot of people are saying this is discrimination,” said David Maluchnik, Michigan Catholic Conference communications director. “What we feel is discriminatory is not allowing for faith-based agencies to operate within their first-amendment rights. So we’re looking to prevent discrimination. We’re looking to make sure there is diversity in child placement in Michigan.”

The bill has already gone through hearings in the House, but most say it is unlikely to make it through to the Senate, and even if it does, it will have a difficult time making it through there, too.