Michigan has 13,000 children in foster care and has a shortage of adoptive and foster families. Yet a Michigan law allows organizations that contract with the state to provide foster care services to use religion to justify turning away families who want to provide safe, loving homes to these children. As a result, children are harmed.
Last week, two same-sex couples who were turned away by state contractors sued the state.
Religious freedom is about fairness. It’s not fair to the children who will remain in foster care longer when state contractors use religion to reject qualified families who want to provide safe, loving homes.
Michigan is not alone. Several other states have similar, troubling laws, including Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas that enacted laws this year. These laws allow taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to put their religious beliefs ahead of a child’s best interest. The agencies could use religion as an excuse to refuse to work with prospective parents who were unmarried, a same-sex couple, or belong to a faith to which it objected. Agencies could also refuse to provide a foster home to a gay teen, provide necessary healthcare to a youth who has experienced sexual assault, or refuse to allow a youth in care to attend her church.
In order to educate the public and policymakers across the country, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and allies released a report and a television ad demonstrating the harms children in foster care may face under these laws. MAP even tried to run its powerful ad on the Fox News Channel, but Fox News rejected it.
Americans United supports our allies MAP and ACLU. We have fought this discriminatory legislation and will continue to fight efforts to put the interests of state contractors above the best interests of children in foster care. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.