New bill would let adoption agencies pick parents on religious, moral grounds

Nov 28, 2012

Michigan adoption agencies would be able to refuse to place kids with families who violate the agency's religious or moral convictions. 

That's under a new bill proposed in the state legislature.

Private agencies can already use faith-based principles when it comes to adoption, like not placing kids with homosexual parents.

But this bill would make it illegal to deny agencies funding or licenses because of their convictions.

Dave Maluchnik is with the Michigan Catholic Conference. He says in other parts of the country, charities are having to choose between offering adoptions or sticking to their religious beliefs. 

"And unfortunately what that has done is forced faith-based organizations to close their doors. Because religious organizations are not going to act contrary to their faith-based teachings."

Opponents of the bill say it sanctions discrimination at a time when some 5 thousand Michigan kids need safe homes.

And they say the bill is too broad. Emily Dievendorf is with Equality Michigan, an LGBT advocacy group.

"It doesn't just say religious belief. It says moral conviction. And we can claim that just about anything is something that comes from our moral belief. We could discriminate against race, just as they could against gender."

But those who support the bill, including Maluchnik, say those kinds of hypotheticals are mere scare tactics.

A similar bill has come up and been defeated in the Michigan Legislature before. Several political analysts say the prospects of this controversial bill getting through the lame duck legislature are dim.

But Dievendorf, of Equality Michigan, says it’s irresponsible for the legislature to use their final few weeks to focus on this proposal, when they should be addressing other issues facing Michigan’s families and children.