ACLU will fight Michigan's new religious liberty laws

by Vanessa Rodriguez, |

LANSING, Mich.(Christian Examiner) -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced last week that they will legally challenge a package of religious liberty bills Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder signed into law June 11.

Snyder signed into law three bills that allow faith-based adoption agencies to operate according to their religious beliefs and protect them from being forced to place children into homes that conflict with those beliefs. The bills also guard against lawsuits for referring prospective parents to other agencies when they do not meet an agency's criteria.

In the past, faith-based adoption agencies in the state have routinely used discretions when placing children that considers a thorough evaluation of prospective parents' home and personal life, including marital status.

The ACLU argued in a release on their website that the new laws "will allow religiously-affiliated foster agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, religious minorities, single parents, and any other prospective parents who do not share the religious beliefs of the agency."

Snyder denied that the laws were discriminatory, according to World Magazine.

"Our goal is to get the maximum number of kids adopted by loving families regardless of the loving family's background, whether they're straight or gay," the publication reported he said.

Rana Elmir, deputy director for ACLU of Michigan, called the legislation "dangerous" and asserted that it created roadblocks for children in need of a home.

"There is nothing about this shameful legislation that helps vulnerable kids find homes," Elmir said.

Prior to the becoming law, one of the bills' sponsors Rep. Eric Leutheuser (R), emphasized the legislature simply served to allow religious agencies to refer potential adoptive parents to more compatible agencies.

"Faith-based agencies need to be able to recuse themselves from adoptions that would go against their faith based beliefs," Leutheuser told The Detroit Free Press earlier this year.

However, the ACLU claimed that because the agencies receive state money they cannot use religiously based discretions that would negatively impact same-sex couples.

Yet the most likely to suffer from ACLU's lawsuit are the very same "vulnerable children" they claim to be interested in protecting.

For example, In states like California, Illinois, and Massachusetts where similar legislation perviously became law, discrimination issues led the government to withdraw funding from faith-based agencies. As a result, some of the agencies could no longer operate and ultimately thousands of unadopted children were impacted.

While some of Michigan's faith-based agencies do not accept government funding, those that do will likely face closure without the government's financial support. According to the DFP, about $10 million in state and federal funds go to the faith-based agencies.