Major Child Advocacy Groups Strongly Oppose Michigan’s Extreme Anti-LGBT Adoption Bills

by Stephen Peters

Bills would enshrine special taxpayer funded discrimination rights into law and could be voted on by the Senate as early as today

WASHINGTON — Today, major child advocacy groups joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, in opposition to a package of extreme anti-LGBT adoption bills in Michigan that are dangerously close to becoming law. HB 4188, HB 4189, and HB 4190 would enshrine special discrimination rights into Michigan law by allowing adoption agencies contracted by the state to discriminate with taxpayer funds against prospective parents based on "the child placing agency's sincerely held religious beliefs."

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Education Association joined HRC in condemning these bills. The extreme bills have already been passed by the Michigan House of Representatives, passed through committee in the Senate yesterday, and could be voted on by the full Senate as early as today.

“Rather than ensuring that adoption determinations are made based on the best interest of the child, these discriminatory bills put the 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system at risk of finding safe and loving homes,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth, and Families Program. “Major child advocacy groups agree that these bills should have no place in Michigan law and would only foster discrimination, doing harm to our clients, our patients, our students, and their families.”

On Thursday of last week, these same major child advocacy groups spoke out against bills like these around the nation. “We, as organizations dedicated to serving the best interests and well-being of children and youth, are deeply concerned about the spate of anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced in state legislatures around the country this year,” the statement said, “including measures that would allow discrimination in adoption and foster care, criminalize transgender people who attempt to use restrooms, and, under the guise of religious liberty, give service providers the power to deny child welfare services to the very people who need our care the most.”

The sweepingly broad bills dangerously endorse taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people and a significant range of other Michiganders. For example, an agency could turn away a single parent seeking to foster a child in need and the single parent would have no recourse.  The same would be true of a married couple in which one of the prospective parents had previously been divorced.  

The best interests of the child are not served by enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination into law; the best interests of the child are served by making a case by case determination about whether placement of a child with a prospective family is in that child’s best interest. Offering adoption and foster care services to the public is a secular activity, since children in the protection of the state are the state’s children while they are there, and discriminating against prospective parents using taxpayer dollars does a disservice both to the children who need homes and to the entire state.

One of the cruelest consequences of these types of bills is that they would allow agencies to refuse to place foster children with members of their extended families - a practice often considered to be in the best interest of the child - based solely on the agency’s religious beliefs.  A loving, LGBT grandparent, for example, or a stable, welcoming LGBT relative could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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