LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law letting faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts decline to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs.
The Republican governor told The Associated Press Thursday that the legislation codifies existing state practice for private agencies with contracts to place children and ensures as many organizations as possible are involved in helping kids be adopted.
Critics say the law amounts to government-sanctioned discrimination against gay couples and compare it to a religious objections measure in Indiana that had to be softened after a backlash.
The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the bills Wednesday.
Agencies with religious objections to a prospective adoption would have to refer an applicant to another willing and able agency or to a state website listing other providers.
The law comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the legality of same-sex marriage within the month.
Also Thursday in North Carolina, a measure allowing some court officials to refuse to perform gay marriage responsibilities because of their religious beliefs became law, with the state House voting to override Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto. The Senate had voted to override the veto a week ago.
The law says court officials who disclose a “sincerely held religious objection” must stop performing marriage duties for both gay and heterosexual couples for at least six months. The chief District Court judge or the county register of deeds – both elected officials – would fill in on marriages if needed.
North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, introduced the bill shortly after rulings by federal judges last October that overturned North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage approved by voters in 2012.
Most legislative Democrats aligned themselves with gay rights groups that said the bill created a new form of discrimination similar to biases of a generation ago against multiracial marriages.
Before North Carolina, only Utah had passed such a similar exemption, earlier this year.