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By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
LANSING – Placing the “freedoms” of faith-based adoption agencies above the needs of children, Rep. John Stahl and the Committee on Family and Children’s Services approved two bills that would allow agencies to discriminate against prospective parents based on the agency’s “morals.”
House Bills 5908 & 5909, which were approved by the committee June 22 and sent to the full House, would allow adoption agencies to refuse placement of children in homes to which the agencies have a “moral objection.” Both bills enjoy the sponsorship of known anti-gay legislators such as Jack Hoogendyk (R-Kalamazoo), Barb Vander Veen (R-District 89) and William VanRegenmorter (R-District 74) and are seen as an attempt to allow conservative adoption agencies to refuse to place children in homes headed by same-sex couples.
According to Sean Kosofsky, policy director for the Triangle Foundation, all five of the committee’s Republicans voted in favor of the bills.
“It was a really difficult and frustrating process because I don’t think that everyone who voted for them likes them,” Kosofsky said. “The chair was insistent that this thing pass regardless of the facts. He didn’t care what evidence people had, and we still believe he was dishonest about having adoption agencies that had complained about the current law.”
During a hearing earlier in the month, Stahl refused to produce evidence to back his claim that Michigan’s adoption agencies are having trouble under current law. However, in a June 14 press release issued by the House Republican Communications Services, Stahl was enthusiastic about his reason for supporting the bills.
“This bill (5908) protects the freedoms of these groups as set forth since the earliest stages in the development of our country,” Stahl said.
Bev Davidson, president of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality, said that she wasn’t surprised that Stahl’s committee had approved the bills.
“Any time you have an adoption or foster care bill that’s going to limit the number of prospective parents, you know that bill’s not in the best interest of children,” said Davidson. “Hopefully the rest of the House members will see that these bills are not in the best interest of children.”
It would appear that the evidence supports Davidson’s rather than Stahl’s position on the matter. Professional and religious organizations including the National Association of Social Workers; the National Council of Jewish Women; the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan; and the Child Welfare League of Michigan support the legal recognition of second parent adoption, including adoption by same-sex couples.
House Speaker Craig DeRoche’s office did not return calls from BTL seeking his position on the bills.
Contact House Speaker Craig DeRoche, as well as your state Senator and Representative, and urge them to oppose any measure that would hurt children by allowing adoption and foster agencies to discriminate based on their religious preferences.
House Speaker Craig DeRoche can be reached by phone at 517-373-0827, by email at email@example.com, and by postal mail at 166 Capitol Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI, 48909-7514.
For contact information for your state Representative call the Michigan State House Clerk’s office at 517-373-0135 or visit http://house.michigan.gov/find_a_rep.asp.
For contact information for your state Senator visit http://senate.michigan.gov or call the Secretary of the Senate at 517-373-2400.