Activist: Bills would let Mich. adoption agencies discriminate - KMSP-TV

Activist: Bills would let Michigan adoption agencies discriminate

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By Amy Lange
Fox 2 News


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- "A license to discriminate," said Gregory Varnum with Equality Michigan.

He is incredulous at what he claims is legislation currently coming before the state House that allows faith-based adoption agencies to discriminate against gays, lesbians and really anybody.

"It would allow adoption agencies to come up with almost any criteria they want and just argue, well, we just don't like you.  You know, you're perfectly qualified to take care of this child.  Nothing about you is bad.  We just don't like your political ideology, so we're going to deny this adoption and keep this child in foster care longer," Varnum said.

14,000 children are in state foster care according to the Department of Human Services.  About 3,000 are available for adoption.

House bills 5763 and 5764 have made it through committee and could come up for a vote at any time despite testimony from same sex adoptive families urging legislators to vote it down.

"Shouldn't matter what their sexual orientation is, we need families for these kids.  There (are) a lot of kids.  There (are) 14,000 some kids in the State of Michigan in foster care, and we need these families," said Kathleen Nelson, who founded the Hands Across the Water adoption agency in Ann Arbor 14 years ago.  She works extensively with same sex couples.

No so with some other agencies.  The Michigan Catholic Conference, for example, supports this legislation.  They say it allows their faith-based adoption agencies to place these children according to their mission.

The Department of Human Services says they're trying to work with their private partner agencies.  The problem is those private partners get taxpayer dollars to place these children in loving homes.

"They're receiving government funds for these services, so they're using taxpayer dollars to deny people adoptions," said Varnum.

That, critics say, doesn't seem to be in anybody's best interest.

"To deny any capable, loving family access to these children is in no one's interest.  It's not in the adoption's agency's interest.  It's certainly not in the child's interest, and it's not in the family's interest, which means it's not in the state's interest," Varnum said.

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