Snyder Signs Adoption Discrimination Bills

By Todd Heywood And BTL Staff

LANSING -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a controversial three bill legislative package which would allow faith-based adoption and foster agencies paid public dollars to refuse service to adoptive or foster parents based on the agencies' sincerely held religious or moral beliefs.

"The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that wouldn't be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process," Snyder said in a press release. "We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup."

That however flies in the face of the findings of the Williams Institute. The report found that 250 Michigan foster kids are currently residing in LGB headed households, and another 3,460 children had been adopted by LGB households.

In a May brief on the three bills, the California based organization reported that in the U.S. 54 percent of lesbians report wanting to adopt children, while only 37 percent of heterosexual women reported such a desire. The organization said there was no comparable data on gay men versus straight men. But making an assumption that a similar number of bisexual or gay men as lesbians wanted to adopted, the organization estimated there were 35,000 LGB homes available to adopt in Michigan.

In his press release, Snyder claimed the bills will stop faith-based agencies from abandoning operations in Michigan. He cites such actions in other states as the basis for the importance of the bills.

Between The Lines has emailed Snyder spokespeople Sara Wurfel and David Murray and asked them to provide the specific data the governor relied upon to sign the bills. Specifically, BTL has asked for data that shows signing such legislation helps Michigan foster and adopt kids. Snyder has spent his time as governor touting his adherence to data and making data driven decisions.

Snyder signed the bills less than 24 hours after they landed on his desk, despite assurances yesterday by Murray that the governor would "be taking a close look" at the bills.

"Gov. Snyder has a history of siding with extreme corporate donors, but sacrificing the health and well-being of children is a new low -- even for him," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. "Children deserve loving homes and our elected officials should be held accountable for supporting this blatant act of discrimination. We hope that Gov. Snyder is prepared for the same amount of backlash that was seen in Indiana when they passed similar RFRA-style legislation, and we encourage the people to raise up their voices in protest."

"This horrific law is an affront to thousands of households led by same-sex couples," Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the Michigan ACLU LGBT Project, wrote on his Facebook page. "It ignores the tens of thousands of Michiganders who spoke out against it. And most of all: it harms the 13,000-plus children in the adoption and foster care system whose chances of finding a nurturing home just got a little more bleak. What's more, now that this harmful bill has been signed into law, we know it will only embolden proponents of the dangerous RFRA bill that would give any individual or business a 'license to discriminate' against LGBT Michiganders.

The ACLU of Michigan released a statement saying they would take legal action. Rana Elmir, deputy director of ACLU of Michigan, said, "WeÕre deeply disappointed that Gov. Snyder signed this dangerous legislation. We are developing a legal challenge 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. The agencies that are subject to HB 4188-4190 are receiving state money to perform a public function and are therefore state actors. Agencies have a legal obligation to ensure the best interests of the child are considered during placement. There is nothing about this shameful legislation that helps vulnerable kids find homes."

House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, also released a statement: "I am bitterly disappointed by Gov. Rick Snyder's signing of the adoption discrimination bills into law today. Just three months ago, Snyder said he would not support a proposal allowing people and businesses to use their faith as legal grounds to discriminate. I can't understand his action today as anything other than a betrayal of Michigan's diverse population. Adoption agencies receive taxpayer dollars, and they shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against taxpayers who pay them. The previous law required adoption agencies to do what's best for the child, period. That should always be our focus, and Michigan deserves better from our governor."

Congressman Dan Kildee, MI-05, issued the following statement today after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a package of anti-LGBT adoption bills:

"It is an absolute disgrace that Gov. Snyder has given adoption agencies a license to discriminate against loving Michigan families. Right now, there are thousands of children in the state's foster care system waiting to be placed in nurturing homes. We should be focused on finding all of these children a permanent place to live, not denying some Michigan families the ability to adopt a child simply because they are gay. That is wrong and simply cruel.

"The people of Michigan want to live in a state where all loving families are accepted and treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, in signing these dangerous and discriminatory bills today, Gov. Snyder has enshrined discrimination in our laws and taken our state in the wrong direction."


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