LGBTQ advocates are speaking out in favor of three bills just introduced in the state Legislature that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual orientation by state-funded adoption and foster-care agencies.
The bills would reverse laws passed in 2015 that allowed such practices in the name of religious freedom. Erin Knott, executive director at the group Equality Michigan, is among the bills' supporters.
"The interests of children who are placed in foster care or adoption should be the top priority, and not the interests of the adoption agency," Knott says. "Sexual orientation has no place or relevance in the decision about whether or not a couple can provide a good supportive home for a child."
Senate Bill 275 would allow same-sex partners to adopt each other's biological or adoptive children. Senate bill 273 would bar church-based child-placement agencies from refusing to adopt to couples of a different religion; and SB 273 and SB 274 would allow governments to hold agencies accountable in cases of proven discrimination.
Southfield Democrat Jeremy Moss, who is Michigan's only openly gay state Senator, said religious agencies should be free to follow their faith, but not with public funds.
"We're not preventing them from putting forward their values, which would discriminate against religious minorities or LGBT couples," Moss says. "But we're not going to fund them while they do that."
In March, state Attorney General Dana Nessel declared faith-based adoption agencies would no longer be permitted to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation. The decision is part of a settlement deal to end a lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the office of former Attorney General Bill Schuette.
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