Michigan Senate Poised To Consider Three Dangerously Extreme Anti-LGBT Adoption Bills

by Stephen Peters

Already passed by the House, these extreme anti-LGBT bills will enshrine dangerously broad taxpayer-funded discrimination if signed into law

WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, urged the Michigan Senate to defeat a package of extreme anti-LGBT adoption bills and called on Governor Rick Snyder to veto them if they reach his desk. 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."

“Playing politics with the lives of the more than 13,000 children currently in foster care in Michigan is beyond shameful,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “These bills are undeniably wrong because they are contrary to our responsibility to find permanent families and safe, loving homes for every child. Michigan Senators should vote down these bills, and Governor Snyder should veto them if they reach his desk.”

The Michigan Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee will hear these three anti-LGBT adoption bills today, and if passed, the full Senate could vote on them as early as tomorrow. All three bills have already passed through the Michigan House of Representatives.

Rather than ensuring that adoption determinations should be made based on the best interest of the child, which is supposed to be the guiding principle in making child placement decisions, 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.

On Thursday of last week, major child advocacy groups spoke out against bills like these, saying it would “foster discrimination and do harm to our clients, our patients, our students, and their families.”

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 agencies 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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