Michigan’s Competing Bills on Same-Sex Adoption

jeff irwinEarlier this month Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation to allow second-parent adoptions. House Bill-4133 would make it possible for unmarried partners of biological parents and sole legal guardians to share legal custody through adoption.

This would permit same-sex and unmarried couples to provide the benefits of two parents to their children, including health insurance. It is clearly in the best interest of children, which is the guiding principle for custodial decisions. Yet, Republican lawmakers have their own legislation intended to make adoption more difficult.

This is the third time Irwin has proposed this legislation — as the lawmaker explains:

“HB 4133 would allow judges to grant adoption to two individuals who are not married if that adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Currently, when children are adopted into homes headed by two adults who cannot marry, the child can only be adopted by one parent. That robs these children of the rights to health care, visitation, child support, inheritance and other benefits of having two parents who are financially and emotionally responsible for them.

With so many children waiting to find a permanent family, it is both discriminatory and financially foolish for Michigan to prevent these loving parents from stepping up and taking responsibility to love and care for them. Frankly, it’s embarrassing for the state I love.

Republican lawmakers will have none of this. Today they introduced a package of bills designed to aggravate the process for same-sex couples seeking full parental rights. House Bills 4188, 4189 and 4190 would allow a child-placing agency to decline certain adoptions based on religious or moral convictions. The bills amend Public Act 116 of 1973, the Social Welfare Act and the Probate Code to reflect the following language:

To the fullest extent permitted by the state and Federal law, a child placing agency shall not be required to provide any services if those services conflict with, or provide any services under circumstances that conflict with, the child placing agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs…

The declining agency would then be required to refer the adoption applicants to another provider.

Michigan’s not alone in its GOP campaign against LGBT civil rights.


All over the media this week is Alabama’s unconstitutional attempt to ignore the Supremacy Clause, thumbing their nose at the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to entertain a stay on lower courts’ finding same-sex marriage bans illegal.


Sensing the inevitability of same-sex marriage, the Hawkeye state is attempting to legislate-away their judiciary’s ability to rule on the subject. Yep, they are trying to make it illegal for the Iowa Supreme Court to even consider placing it on the docket. A similar attempt to usurp judicial powers was made back in 2013. Gavel to Gavel reports:

The efforts are an ongoing reaction to a 2009 Iowa Supreme Court decision that unanimously struck down a state statute that banned same sex marriage. As a result of what became known as the Varnum decision, 3 justices of that court lost retention elections in 2010 and an effort was made to impeach the other justices.

The language mirrors similar bills introduced in the U.S. Congress to prohibit federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing same-sex marriage bans (HR 724 of 2007, HR 1269 of 2009 & HR 875 of 2011) however the federal version prohibited any federal court from hearing such a challenge; the Iowa bill merely limits the appellate jurisdiction of the state’s supreme court.

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case this Spring, Justices Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas are likely the only two that will attempt to uphold laws that ban same-sex marriage. While it’s premature to declare this victory for LGBT rights a done deal, it’s clear that state officials’ futile attempts to block civil liberties will be viewed as being on the wrong side of history.

It’s such a shame they are putting children in jeopardy and wasting our taxpayer dollars on these fights.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

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2 Responses to Michigan’s Competing Bills on Same-Sex Adoption

  1. Dave Dunning says:

    I just discovered your website and it is great. The reason I am writing is that you seem knowledgeable about the workings of the Michigan Legislature and I am not.
    I just became aware of three house bills introduced 2/5/15 by Hooker that I find as very disturbing. The bills are 4147, 4144 and 4143.-they all attempt to insert prayer, religion and anti-science into the schools.
    My question is do these bills need to be taken seriously or are they just to satisfy the religious right and expected fail in committee?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment Dave.

      HB-4147, regarding religious expression, seems to be a repeat of Hooker’s failed effort to pass HB-4986 in 2013. The bill doesn’t seem to cross the line until the section on “public forum” religious expression. First, it limits who may speak, and it appears to allow prayer at school events — so it’s got two First Amendment problems.
      Link to old bill: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2013-2014/billintroduced/House/pdf/2013-HIB-4986.pdf

      Charles Haynes of the Religious Freedom Center does a good job of explaining the parameters of religious expression in public schools:

      HB-4143 is an effort to block Common Core Standards which are reviled by progressives as much as conservatives, but for different reasons. Conservatives believe it’s government over-reach, and progressives object to the standardized testing it entails. Common Core is a fiery policy battleground.

      HB-4144 is an effort to block Next Generation Science, which conservatives oppose because of over-reach and a basic suspicion of science in general. http://www.nextgenscience.org/

      Although Hooker’s 2013 bill died in committee, it has potential to progress in this new legislature. They are much more conservative, with a number of freshman religious ideologues.

      Thanks again for your comment!!

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