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Michigan Tries to Protect Christian Adoption Agencies from Closing

Faith-based agencies in D.C., Massachusetts, and Illinois have left the adoption business over new laws. Michigan tries to follow Virginia and keep from becoming next.

Michigan lawmakers are set to consider a new adoption bill that would guarantee faith-based adoption agences the freedom to make placement decisions based on their faith.

The proposed legislation would allow religiously affiliated, private adoption agencies that receive state funding to operate without being required to "perform or assist in adoptions that violate their religious teachings." This reinforces the state's existing policy allowing agencies to consider religion, sexual orientation, or marital status, among other factors, when making placement decisions.

Opponents of the bill have been vocal about what they think it will do: Give adoption agencies "a license to discriminate," according to Equality Michigan's Gregory Varnum.

But the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA) says media reports are misrepresenting the legislation's effects. "The proposed changes to the regulations for child-placing agencies only would put that negative freedom into positive terms," IRFA stated.

In addition, IRFA points out that the legislation will not force agencies to change their policies or prevent families from applying to adopt through a compatible agency.

The Michigan legislation arises, in part, as a response to faith-based adoption agencies in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., closing after new laws forced them to consider same-sex parents for adoption. CT reported on those legal battles in 2011. CT also reported how adoption became the next battleground of the culture wars, but recently noted the positive trend toward open adoptions.

CT also examined whether Christian adoption agencies should stop placing children if required to work with same-sex couples.

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