Snyder Signs Bill Allowing Discrimination in Adoption

Two months ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he would veto a RFRA bill that was working its way through the legislature, effectively killing it. But now he’s signed a bill into law that explicitly allows discrimination by adoption agencies against gay couples.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a controversial package of bills Thursday allowing faith-based agencies to turn away gay and lesbian couples seeking state-supported adoptions.

Snyder signed the bills without ceremony, just one day after the Legislature sent him the legislation. The law goes into effect immediately. The ACLU of Michigan vows to challenge it.

The new law allows faith-based adoption agencies to invoke their sincerely held religious beliefs in denying adoption placement services to gay and lesbian couples who want to be parents. The agencies would be required to refer gay and lesbian couples to another adoption agency.

People keep referring to this as an “adoption RFRA” bill, but that isn’t accurate. RFRA has never been used to get an exemption from anti-discrimination laws at the state or federal level, which means this bill is worse than RFRA. But as bad as it is, I’m irritated that so many opponents of it feel the need to lie about it. For instance, one group immediately put out this meme:


No. It does not ban adoption by same-sex couples. Actually, that’s already banned in Michigan. Only individuals or married couples can adopt and gay couples can’t get married, so there’s already no adoption by gay couples in Michigan. This bill was passed just in case the Supreme Court overturns the ban on same-sex marriage, which would immediately allow gay couples to adopt if they’re married. But it does not ban gay couples from adopting, it only allows religious adoption agencies from having to facilitate such adoptions. And the law does require them to refer a gay couple to an agency that would do the adoption.

The bill is bad enough, there’s no need to exaggerate it or lie about it. But as James Hanley noted sarcastically on Facebook, “We’re on the side of truth and justice; we don’t need to worry about little things like honesty.” Unfortunately, that attitude is far too common on both sides.

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  • wreck

    “sincerely held religious beliefs”

    What a crock. Can anybody claim anything a “sincerely held religious belief” and use it as an excuse to discriminate or refuse to obey laws? Or does it only apply to those who don’t like icky gays or slutty sluts who use contraception?

  • Ken

    Thanks for this clarifaction. Emotions run high when these type of actions are taken. I realize I may have slightly Mischaracterized this bill myself, but not intentionally. Still a huge embarrassment for our state. Legally sanctioned discrimination is bad enough, but allowing someone to essentially discriminate on behalf of someone else is truly bizarre.

    With bills like this, I often wonder how often they will even be invoked. Their passage seems mostly symbolic. It will be interesting to see exactly what the impact is. Not that a small impact will make it any less deplorable.

  • John Pieret

    What this will do is not so much about the gay parents-in-waiting but what it will do to the children who need parents. According to Hemant, children are assigned randomly to adoption agencies and some children who might do better with same-sex parents may be denied that option. At the very least, children in faith-based agencies may linger longer there because the prospective parents are reduced … never good for the children.

  • colnago80

    Well, what say Michael Heath about his hero Rick Snyder?

  • d.c.wilson

    But it’s cool because it allows for “separate but equal” adoption through agencies that don’t want to discriminate.

    Wait, what?

  • Michael Heath

    Almost always colnago80 misrepresents another person; in this case me @ 4.

  • Ken

    @1, exactly! Creative ‘Satanists’ and Marijuana advocates have already begun trying to exploit these laws. The government is wading (or diving) into murky waters with this nonsense and it will be interesting to see how they try to maneuver out of them.

  • WMDKitty — Survivor

    One more reason to abolish the private adoption industry.

    The public system, through the state, may not be perfect, but at least they’re not selling babies healthy, White infants to the highest bidders.