There’s been no shortage of culture-war bills pending at both the state and federal level, but Michigan’s anti-gay adoption bill came as something of a surprise. Observers knew the proposal was there, but few expected policymakers to act so quickly on such a far-right bill.
But as Rachel noted on the show last night, act they did. Michigan Republicans quickly approved a new policy, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), that empowers taxpayer-financed, faith-based adoption organizations to reject prospective parents if the organizations have religious objections. As msnbc’s Emma Margolin reported, the bill “was placed on the GOP-dominated state Senate’s agenda at the last minute, with no notice on Wednesday. The House of Representatives, also Republican-controlled, quickly concurred the Senate’s passage.”
The editorial board of the Detroit Free Press called the move “shameful.”
The legislation is a craven attempt to cloak discrimination in faith, and it leaves the best interests of the 13,000 children in the state’s care – entirely out of the equation. […]The bills Gov. Rick Snyder signed Thursday spell nothing but trouble for the children in this state who are waiting, desperately, for the chance to join willing families.
The editorial added that the measure is a “stain on our state’s character,” which “sacrifices the interests of children to make a small-minded point about the nobility of bigotry.”
For his part, Michigan’s Republican governor offered a curious defense for his newly signed state law.
In a press release from his office, Snyder said the proposal ensures Michigan children up for adoption “have the greatest opportunity to be placed in loving homes.” The governor added, “We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.”
Why anyone would believe this is unclear. As Rachel put it, “The way we’re going to do that is with this new law that ensures that loving families will not be allowed to adopt Michigan kids because of the makeup of those families on the basis of the religious beliefs of the people who run the adoption agencies.”
As with North Carolina’s controversial new marriage statute, the intended purpose of the Michigan law is anti-gay, but it doesn’t specify who can now face legal discrimination. In practical terms, if these adoption agencies – which, again, receive taxpayer funding – say they have religious objections to prospective parents for any reason, they can now simply refuse to work with those applicants.