House passes bills allowing adoption agencies to practice religious, gay discrimination

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

LANSING – Sixty-nine members of Michigan's House of Representatives believe that state adoption agencies ought to be allowed to practice religious-based discrimination against prospective adoptive parents, including same-sex parents.
Last week, the State House – in a 69-37 vote – approved House Bills 5908 and 5909.
If passed into law, the bills would allow faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex parents if they have a "written religious moral conviction or policy" against homosexuality.
Twelve Democrats joined 57 Republicans in voting for passage of the bills, while all 37 of the "nay" votes were Democrats.
Noting that the bills are opposed by the Family Law Section of the State Bar and the Michigan Department of Social Services, state Rep. Steve Bieda, D-Warren said, "HB 5909 and its companion bill, HB 5908, would allow the government to engage in invidious discrimination through the vehicle of a discriminat(ing) agency. HB 5909 would allow discrimination against a qualified adoptive parent based on race, religion, political affiliation, age, occupation, as well as a host of other reasons as long as the adoption agency proclaims that in writing as 'a moral conviction.'"
"These bills put the best interests of the child secondary to the beliefs of the individual or organization involved in the adoption," Bieda said in his remarks from the House floor during the roll call vote.
If the two bills are passed into law, "Same-sex parents could be discriminated against even more because private agencies will be able to refuse them at the door," said Bev Davidson, president of the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality.
"I think that election year politics have obviously trumped the best interests of children in the passage of these bills," she added.
Same-sex couples seeking to adopt aren't the only ones who could face discrimination under the bills. "Religious opposition centers on the fact that the bills would invite discrimination among holders of religious beliefs," Bieda said. Various competing churches, for example, would likely find 'moral' reasons for denying an adoption based on a competing sect or religion." Bieda noted that "several religious leaders spoke quite eloquently in opposition" to the bills during committee hearings.
"Michigan's children deserve better," state Rep. Paul Condino, D-Southfield, said in a faxed statement to BTL. "Some adoption agencies that allegedly care about children's welfare are attempting to claim the moral high ground with proclamations about what truly constitutes a family. Meanwhile, study after study shows the importance to children of maintaining a safe, loving home with stable parents." Condino is the primary sponsor of House Bill 5399, which would legalize second-parent adoption in Michigan.

Find OUT More

For more on House Bills 5908 and 5909, see "Adoption bills hearing causes acrimony" online at

These bills aren't Representative John Stahl's first attempt to allow adoption agencies to practice discrimination. For more, see "Adoption under fire
Two anti-gay adoption bills introduced in Michigan House," or Creep of the Week: Rep. John Stahl online at

For more information on same-sex parents and adoption, visit the Coalition on Adoption Rights Equality at or the Family Pride Coalition at

For more information on House Bill 5399, the second-parent adoption bill, see "Second-parent adoption bill to be introduced," online at

How to Help OUT

House Bills 5908 and 5909 have been referred to the Senate Committee on Families and Human Services, chaired by Republican Sen. Bill Hardiman. Call Sen. Hardiman toll-free at (866) 305-2129 or email [email protected]. In addition, contact your state senator to voice your opinion on the bills. For contact information for your state senator visit or call the Secretary of the Senate at (517) 373-2400.

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