Sunday, June 14, 2015

Michigan Governor Signs Bills Protecting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies; ACLU Vows Challenge

On Thursday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed (press release) three companion bills assuring that faith-based agencies providing foster care and adoption services are protected in refusing to place children under circumstances that conflict with the agency's sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy, statement or faith, or other document adhered to by the agency. Under the bills, the state may not refuse funds for services to agencies that refuse such placements.  If an agency refuses to provide services on religious grounds, it must either refer the applicant to another agency or to a website listing other child placement agencies.  In signing HB 4188, 4189 and 4190, the governor said that the bills "do not change current practices in Michigan, but prevent faith-based agencies from having policies forced on them that violate their religious beliefs, which have resulted in agencies closing in Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and Washington, D.C."

Responding to the Governor's action, the ACLU on Thursday issued a statement (full text) reading in part:
We’re deeply disappointed that Governor Snyder signed this dangerous legislation. We are developing a lawsuit with our Muslim, Jewish, Christian and LGBTQ partners. We encourage any family looking to adopt or foster children who believe they will be adversely affected by this law to contact us immediately.
MLive reporting on developments says that together Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services together provide 25% to 30% of foster care adoptions in the state.