Michigan’s House of Representatives passed three bills on Wednesday that may allow faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against certain prospective parents.
The package of bills, all passing with 65-44 votes, state that religiously-affiliated agencies could be able to refuse its services to same-sex or unmarried couples.
Supporters of the bills said they think they will preserve the adoption system, which will lead to opportunities for more children to be placed in homes.
"This bill is not about who can and who cannot adopt a child,” said Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, according to the Lansing State Journal. “It's about ensuring the most alternatives for people wanting to adopt a child."
Opponents said they think its passage would imply that the state sanctions discrimination against people who do not hold the same beliefs as the adoptive agency.
"It's not just discrimination. It's writing a check for discrimination. It's state-funded discrimination," said Rep. Jeff Irwin. "The only reason you're voting for this bill is that you're blinded by your own faith."
Michigan’s 2014-15 budget appropriated around $20 million to support adoption and foster care agencies. Almost $10 million of that total amount went to religious agencies.
Tom Hickson, vice president for public policy at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said he thinks the bills will make it easier for agencies to place children in loving homes.
"Securing diversity in child placement and protecting religious liberty rights for faith based agencies will move children out of the foster care system," he said in a statement. "Without this legislation there will likely be fewer providers, which means fewer opportunities to find homes for kids that need them."
Rep. Jon Hoadley, an openly gay member of the House, said he thinks this bill would perpetuate discrimination towards same-sex couples.
"These bills put the best interest of the agency over the best interest of the child," he said. "And it violates the constitution because it elevate some religious beliefs over others."
The three bills are now in the state Senate for debate.