RFRA Legislation and Same-Sex Adoption in Michigan

Bringing a child into a family through adoption requires a great deal of work, time, and patience. For many same-sex couples, however, the battle uphill can be a lot more difficult despite the significant gains made in the past year. Despite the Supreme Court decision expanding same-sex marriage to all states, gay and lesbian couples in Michigan may still be denied adoption rights.

Religious Freedom Legislation and Discrimination

In reaction to the expansion of marriage to same-sex couples, various legislation relating to religious freedom has cropped up across the country, including Michigan, to prevent same-sex couples from obtaining the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Adoption is a particularly hot topic and many feel strongly about denying same-sex couples the ability to adopt. One such piece of legislation was signed in 2015 by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. The law allows for adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples by making it possible for faith-based adoption agencies to cite religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to potential adoptive parents, namely same-sex couples they feel are unworthy of parenthood.

While the legislators and the religious groups supporting the Michigan law claim they are only hoping to provide services to the many children needing adoption, those who oppose claim it does the opposite. Although same-sex couples have the right to adopt in Michigan, the religious freedom law has interfered with many couples' desire to do so. The agencies that choose to deny their services to same-sex couples, however, are also required to offer information about other agencies that could help with an adoption.

Adoption Options for Same-Sex Couples in Michigan

Regardless of the legislation, there is no law in Michigan that explicitly denies same-sex couples the ability to adopt children. There are many adoption agencies that are happy to help same-sex couples adopt. In addition, Michigan laws also allow for second parent adoption. These types of adoption allow both partners to legally adopt children, granting each parent the important legal rights that come along with parenthood such as:

● The ability to make medical decisions on behalf of the child;

● Visitation and custody rights with the child even if the partners split up;

● Financial responsibility for the child; and

● The ability to leave and inheritance and benefits for the child upon death.

Help With Same-Sex Family Law Issues

Despite the significant gains made in LGBT rights, there are still many legal complications same-sex couples must face. Both the legacy of old laws and new religious freedom laws often raise up obstacles for same-sex couples and their families. If you and your partner are looking to expand your family through adoption, but have been denied by an adoption agency or have any questions about the process it's important to speak to a lawyer. Contact the Law Office of Michael A. Robbins online or by calling 248-646-7980 to consult with an experienced family lawyer. Mr. Robbins has been dealing with adoption matters and family law in the Tri-County area of Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb counties, and greater Michigan, for years and is considered one of the foremost authorities in the field.