Updated: 6:00 p.m. EDT
LANSING, Mich. — Faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts could refuse to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs under legislation approved Wednesday by Michigan’s Republican Legislature, despite objections that it would permit discrimination against gay couples and others.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican who has expressed concerns that the bills could bring about lawsuits, did not indicate whether he would sign or veto them. Spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said he would “closely” review the legislation “through the lens of what will ensure that we are taking care of the most Michigan children and matching them with their forever families.”
Senate Republicans voted 26-12 almost entirely along party lines after a debate during which some lawmakers recounted their own experiences of being adopted or adopting children. The House gave final approval, 65-44, after passing an earlier version in March.
Supporters said the legislation would codify the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ existing practice for private agencies with child-placing contracts, solidifying their relationship with the state. Agencies with religious objections to a prospective adoption would have to refer an applicant to another willing and able agency or to a state website listing other providers.
Opponents said the bills would ignore children’s best interests, legalize discrimination and make Michigan a less enticing place to live. They likened the legislation to a recently enacted religious objections law in Indiana that had to be softened because of a strong backlash over the possibility of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Article continues below“Sexual orientation doesn’t have any correlation with quality of parenting or the ability to provide safe, stable, loving home to a child,” said Sen. Coleman Young II, a Detroit Democrat.
Backers said concerns that the bills would keep kids from being adopted are unfounded, saying faith-based agencies account for a quarter of Michigan’s 105 adoption and foster care providers.