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Michigan will let faith-based adoption agencies refuse gay couples

Half of Michigan's $20 million public budget for adoption agencies goes to faith-affiliated groups that would be covered under the religious objection laws.

Michigan has a new law (June 11) that allows faith-based adoption agencies to refuse gay couples as clients.
Michigan has a new law (June 11) that allows faith-based adoption agencies to refuse gay couples as clients.

Michigan has a new law (June 11) that allows faith-based adoption agencies to refuse gay couples as clients. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

(Reuters) – Adoption agencies in Michigan can refuse service on religious grounds to homosexual couples who want to adopt children under a package of three new, related laws signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday (June 11)

Snider said the legislation codifies existing state practice for private agencies with contracts to place children and ensures as many organizations as possible are involved in helping kids be adopted, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Now, child-placing agencies cannot be required to provide adoption services under circumstances that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy or other document. The agencies are private, but receive state funding.

The laws, which don’t specifically mention lesbian and gay couples, are a narrow version of religious freedom acts passed in a number of states to shield businesses that want to refuse service to same-sex couples from discrimination lawsuits.

Supporters say such laws protect religious freedoms, while others say they are licenses to discriminate. With 37 states now allowing same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has taken up the issue this year and conservative groups are turning toward backing religious-freedom laws from fighting recent battles on gay marriage.

Half of Michigan’s $20 million public budget for adoption agencies goes to religiously affiliated organizations that would be covered under the religious objection bills, The Detroit Free Press reported.

The Michigan arm of the American Civil Liberties Union had tweeted to followers asking them to call the governor and tell him not to sign the bills passed by the legislature on Wednesday.

“Michigan has the fifth largest population of children waiting for adoption in the country. There is no room for discrimination,” the group tweeted.