The House Families, Children and Seniors Committee today approved legislation protecting religious freedom under the First Amendment and Michigan Constitution for private adoption agencies.
House Bills 4927, 4928, and 4991, sponsored by state Reps. Andrea LaFontaine, Kenneth Kurtz and Tom Leonard, would write into law current practices followed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that allows private faith-based adoption agencies to refuse a placement that violates that agencies sincerely held religious beliefs.
“In other states that didn’t write this practice into law, many faith-based agencies were forced to close their doors or violate their strongly held religious beliefs,” said Kurtz, R-Coldwater, sponsor of HB 4928 and chair of the Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “These agencies are essential partners for the state in helping many children find loving homes. Preserving this partnership will allow these agencies to continue to work with the state to help children in foster care and going through the adoption process while still allowing anyone to adopt in the state.”
LaFontaine, sponsor of HB 4927, believes this is an issue of protecting the First Amendment right to religious liberty for private faith-based agencies.
“Our government shouldn’t be asking private organizations to act against their religious beliefs,” said LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township. “No one will be prevented from adopting as a result of these bills. All that will happen is that the few faith-based agencies operating in Michigan will not be forced by the state to violate their religious beliefs, and will be able to continue working to help Michigan children.”
Leonard, sponsor of HB 4991, says the bills will continue to allow the state to use faith-based adoption agencies as a valuable resource in adoption and foster care.
“Allowing faith-based agencies the right to practice in a way that doesn’t violate their religious beliefs will make sure they continue to operate in partnership with the state to help Michigan children find loving homes,” said Leonard, R-Dewitt Township.
Under the bills, DHS would not be allowed to deny a license, grant contract or participation in a government program to an agency that chooses to refuse to participate in a placement because of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
The bills are now up for consideration in the full House.