Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills into law Thursday that will allow agencies and individual service providers in the state to refuse to work with prospective parents – including LGBTQ people and same-sex couples – and LGBTQ youth in care who do not conform with the service provider or agencies’ religious or moral beliefs.
“Governor Snyder’s justification for signing these harmful bills into law is disingenuous, misleading, and offensive,” said Family Equality Council Director of Public Policy Emily Hecht-McGowan. “This is an Indiana-style adoption RFRA – plain and simple. Allowing agencies charged with placing children to turn away otherwise qualified parents does nothing to help Michigan’s most vulnerable youth.”
Hecht-McGowan continued, “The idea that an agency can refuse to work with certain kinds of parents and just refer them elsewhere is contrary to Gov. Snyder’s stayed objective of ensuring ‘children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.’ This practice, at best, significantly delays the ability of Michigan’s foster youth to find forever homes and, at worst, lets these youth languish in the system without ever finding loving families of their own. These laws will have a chilling effect on recruitment by telling certain kinds of prospective parents that they are unwelcome.”
“Gov. Snyder cites the closing of Catholic Charities Adoption Services in Massachusetts, Illinois, California and Washington, D.C., as examples of why these bills were necessary in Michigan,” Hecht-McGowan added. “However, if Snyder had bothered to do his homework, he would have seen that there was zero negative impact on services provided to youth in care. In each instance, other agencies without discriminatory practices stepped in to put the best interests of foster youth first.”
The new laws will go into effect 90 days from Thursday, June 11.
There are currently more than 10,000 youth in Michigan’s foster care system, approximately 3,000 of whom are currently available for adoption.