Michigan Governor Rick Snyder passed a bill Thursday allowing publicly-funded adoption agencies to turn away families based on marital status, sexual orientation, and religion, Detroit Free Press reports. “We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of [the adoption process] makeup,” Snyder, a Republican, said in a statement. About 14,000 children live in Michigan’s foster care system each year. Narrowing down the homes available to them by a landslide doesn't seem like it would help these efforts.
Republican Michigan state Senator Rick Jones said the bill was a necessary effort to appease the faith-based adoption agencies, as they place about 50 percent the children. "If they close their doors, I don't know what we'll do with all the children,” he told DTP. “This is a real threat."
American Civil Liberties of Michigan says they plan to legally challenge this new bill, M Live reports. "As a country, we outlawed separate but equal 50 years ago, and what this law does is, it enacts separate criteria for people," ACLU staff attorney Brooke Tucker said. "If you are a Christian, you have a whole range of options available to you from these faith-based agencies. If you're Muslim, if you're Jewish, if you're a same sex couple, you don't."
The law still needs 90 days to take effect. ACLU hopes to pass an arrangement before that requires religion-based agencies to refer clients to alternative agencies, should they not qualify under the new law. If this goes through, ideally everyone can keep happy: religious agencies wouldn’t potentially suffer loss of funding for refusing to act against their faith, all people looking to adopt one of Michigan’s 14,000 children in the system—regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, and religion—will get a chance to do so. This would similar to Virginia’s conscience clause.
Tucker added: "Now that there's a written statute, all the more reason to address it, and I do think it gives us a stronger basis to challenge this.”