Job one right now for the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan is to find a legal challenge to the newly-signed law that allows faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to turn away same-sex or unmarried couples based on their religious beliefs.
The package of bills signed by Gov. Rick Snyder last week landed on his desk with an alacrity rarely seen in state government: the bill was placed on the Senate's agenda at the last minute Wednesday -- with no notice -- passed quickly by the Senate and then the House of Representatives. By Thursday afternoon, they became law.
The urgency appears related to the impending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, on whether same-sex marriages should be legal in Michigan and several other states.
"The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that wouldn't be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process," Snyder said in a statement. "We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup."
ACLU attorney Brooke Tucker told The Detroit Free Press the group is looking at ways to challenge the law on constitutional grounds.
"The constitution doesn't allow discrimination based on religion and you can't do that with state funds," Tucker told the paper. "We're looking at our legal options and especially looking to hear from people who will be adversely affected by this."
Critics called the law state-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex and unmarried couples -- especially because many of the faith-based agencies receive public funding from the state.
But supporters argue the law gives adoptive parents more options, while not forcing the agencies to compromise their principles for fear of legal retaliation or face closure because of a loss of state funding.