In Michigan, a private adoption agency can turn away same-sex couples that want to adopt. Under Michigan law, adoption agencies can rest on their religious beliefs in order to deny assistance to same-sex couples looking to adopt. But the ACLU has brought a lawsuit to change that.
The controversial law has been on the books since June, 2015. Sitting governor Rick Snyder signed the bill. Under the bill, each agency that facilitates adoptions can decide their own policies based on their religious beliefs. If those beliefs prohibit helping a same-sex couple with an adoption, the agency can refuse to help. However, as the law is right now, if an agency chooses to discriminate against a couple, they must refer the couple to another agency. If an agency declines to work with a couple and refers a couple to another agency, the second agency doesn’t have to be within any reasonable distance of the couple’s residence.
The ACLU says that’s not fair. They say that if a private agency accepts taxpayer dollars, they should lose their ability to pick and choose to help some but not others. Their purpose for bringing the lawsuit is to ask a court for a ruling that says these agencies are breaking the law each time they discriminate.
The ACLU says that the law in its current state prevents children from finding their forever families. They say that children should have as many options as possible. In a world where there are more children needing parents than there are willing adoptive parents, agencies shouldn’t be allowed to turn parents away because of their same-sex status, the ACLU says.
Supporters of the bill in its current state say that the U.S. Supreme Court takes their side. They say that the Hobby Lobby and Trinity Lutheran cases are in favor of the organization’s right to choose their own criteria for adoptions. They say that without these exceptions, there’s going to be a critical shortage of adoption agencies, and the family shortage is going to get worse.
Opponents say that there are too many children in foster care. They say that same-sex couples are significantly more likely to pursue adoption than opposite-sex couples. Supporters say that requiring faith-based agencies to assist same-sex couples with adoption isn’t necessarily going to increase the numbers of prospective adoptive couples. Michigan is one of a handful of states with religious exemptions for agencies that assist with adoptions.