Religion & Liberty Online

Michigan Lawmakers Approve Legislation Allowing Adoption Refusals on Religious Grounds

adoptionEvery year about 400,000 children spend time in our nation’s foster care system, with roughly 100,000 eligible for adoption. Yet despite this urgent need for parents, note Sarah Torre and Ryan T. Anderson, “various states have adopted policies that would require faith-based providers to place children with same-sex couples, in violation of some agencies’ deeply held beliefs that children deserve a mom and a dad—effectively forcing these agencies out of adoption and foster care service.”

In a refreshing change from this trend against religious providers, the Michigan Legislature has approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts the right to refuse to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs:

Senate Republicans voted 26-12 almost entirely along party lines after a debate during which some lawmakers recounted their own experiences of being adopted or adopting children. The House gave final approval, 65-44, after passing an earlier version in March.

Supporters said the legislation would codify the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ existing practice for private agencies with child-placing contracts, solidifying their relationship with the state. Agencies with religious objections to a prospective adoption would have to refer an applicant to another willing and able agency or to a state website listing other providers.

Opponents said the bills would ignore children’s best interests, legalize discrimination, and make Michigan a less enticing place to live. They likened the legislation to a recently enacted religious objections law in Indiana that had to be softened because of a strong backlash over the possibility of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).