Michigan Approves Bills that Allow Adoption Agencies to Refuse Service based on Sexual Orientation and Religion


Three bills were passed that permit Michigan adoption agencies to deny service based on faith-based beliefs.

The Michigan Senate Families Seniors and Human Services committee passed three bills. These bills will allow adoption agencies to refuse service to couples who are LGBT, unwed or claim a different faith, as well as those that “threaten the sincerely held religious beliefs” of an agency.

There are three bills heading toward the Governor’s desk passed through the House on party line votes. Prior to the votes, two hours of opposition and supporting testimonies were given by a wide range of people, including parents of varying sexual orientation who have adopted children into their homes.

Supporting and Opposing: Adopt Bills

Among the many supporters are the Michigan Catholic Conference, as well as many adoption agencies. The bill was sponsored by the State Representative of Hillsdale, Eric Leutheuser, who felt that the phrasing “refusing service” should be read “recuse and refer,” adding that “faith-based agencies need to be able to rescue themselves from adoptions that would go against their faith-based beliefs.” However, Gilda Jacobs, the President and CEO of the group, Michigan League for Public Policy, argues that the “children who are placed in foster care or adoption have already suffered. Why would we compound their trauma and keep them from a stable, loving home by rejecting potential foster or adoptive parents based on religious preferences?” She adds that the agency should have the children’s interests as their top priority, rather than the adoption agencies interests.

Last year, the 2014-2015 budget contributed $19.9 million in federal and state funding toward adoption agencies for foster care and adoption services. $10 million of the funding went toward faith-based agencies. Reverend Matthew Bode, from the Detroit Cooperative Parish, feels offended “that my taxpayer dollars are going to an agency that feels I’m not worthy of being a parent.” Bode and his husband are currently in the process of adopting two children.

Rick Snyder has provided little hints as to if he will support or oppose the bill when it reaches his desk. He has said in the past that he will veto the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow businesses to legally refuse service based on religious beliefs, but he has also added that the bills need to be reviewed properly. He is in support of children being adopted into loving families with caring parents, however he never specified same-sex couples.

Montgomery Jones, a member of the Catholics for Choice group, wrote a piece for Detroit News. As a Catholic, she feels that the bill misunderstands “what the majority of Catholics believe, doing a disservice to everyday Catholics like me.” She added that “three out of four U.S. Catholic voters oppose laws that would allow companies or other institutions to use religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to employees or customers.” She finds the bills to be contrary to Catholic beliefs, and religious liberty as a whole. “True religious freedom, the kind that is emphasized in Catholic tradition, has two sides: freedom of religion and freedom from religion.”


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