Traditionally, Christian and other religious organizations have taken the lead in arranging adoptions. But new laws and policies forbid adoption agencies from “discriminating” against same-sex couples who want to adopt a child. This goes against the religious convictions of many faith-based agencies. The result is that a number of church-affiliated adoption agencies have been forced to shut down.
Michigan has passed a law that would carve out an exemption that would allow religious adoption and foster care organizations to continue to operate. (Virginia, Texas, and South Dakota have passed similar laws.) The Michigan law would require agencies that cannot, in good conscience, serve particular clients to refer them to agencies that can. Thus, same-sex couples would not be prevented from adopting.
Despite this compromise, the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the law and has filed suit to prevent a Catholic charity and other faith-based adoption agencies from participating in state adoption programs. This lawsuit is being accompanied by a public relations campaign to vilify religious adoption workers as bigots and child abusers.
Read Elizabeth Kirk, The ACLU Fights a Michigan Law Protecting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies:
Adoptive parents and former foster children in Michigan came forth this week to defend their interest in the protection of faith-based foster care and adoption services in the state of Michigan. After faith-based foster-care and adoption agencies were forced to close in several states, Michigan (and several other states, including Virginia, Texas, and South Dakota) passed laws granting protection to such agencies so they could continue to serve families and children — as they always have done — in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.The Michigan statute stipulates that “a child placing agency shall not be required to provide any services if those services conflict with, or provide any services under circumstances that conflict with, the child placing agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy, statement of faith, or other document adhered to by the child placing agency.” Such statutes makes sense in the context of deep divisions over emerging rights for same-sex couples, on the one hand, and, on the other, a recognition of the important contributions of faith-based social service organizations to their communities. Faced with entrenched and seemingly irreconcilable differences, statutes such as the one in Michigan reflect a commonsense compromise that allows all concerned parties in a diverse and pluralistic society to work together for the benefit of vulnerable children.
Not content with this compromise, however, Kristy and Dana Dumont, a same-sex couple represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Children’s Services Agency, seeking to prevent St. Vincent’s Catholic Charities and other faith-based organizations from partnering with the state of Michigan to provide foster care and adoption services. In support of the lawsuit, and timed to coincide with it, the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank, launched a public-relations campaign in which faith-based agencies and social workers are compared with bigots and child abusers.
Photo by Kslewellen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48113579