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The Detroit News editorial “Don’t force adoption agency conformity” (Sept. 29) misses an important principle: Private organizations — faith-based or otherwise — should not be allowed to use public monies to discriminate. Period.

We hope faith-based organizations remain providing adoption services. However, they can and must do it without tax dollars, and outside of the public child welfare system if their conscience compels them to treat families unequally.

A majority of Michigan adoption agencies are not faith-based. However, the minority that are receive a majority of public dollars.

We are blessed with an adopted child, ironically because a faith-based organization wouldn’t work with our placing parent. In our situation, the placing parent was referred to an agency who works with all qualified families. While several faith-based organizations refused to work with us since we were pursuing a private adoption we celebrate their constitutional rights to do so. We want them serving prospective birth parents and adoptive families who share commonalty.

However, as taxpayers it is offensive when discrimination is funded by public dollars, especially when that discrimination results in children trapped in a foster system being denied good families.

In this regard, equality is not demanding conformity nor pushing people of faith out of the public square; but equality does demand that Michigan tax dollars not fund discrimination.

The Detroit News argues a “separate but equal” doctrine when it quips “as long as same-sex couples have other avenues.” We know better. In fact, the Detroit News knows better. Public dollars should not be used to promote separate but equal; this holds true from failing schools to adoption agencies.

Further, the News naively ignores rural areas that often have limited, if any, access to a diversity of adoption services. Additionally, there are instances where the state of Michigan will only allow faith-based agencies to execute foster or adoptive services.

People of faith don’t want to be treated differently, nor should they be. This is why they should not seek government funds to treat families differently.

Private adoption agencies have a right — that we support — to serve any niche of population they choose: same-sex, faith-only, same-ethnic, income-based, whatever. There are a multitude of ways we sub-divide ourselves based upon an affinity for identity. However, exclusion should never be paid for with tax dollars.

Let’s take the politics out of it and free adoption agencies to build more families, strengthen our communities and most importantly give children what they need most — forever families.

Greg McNeilly and Doug Meeks

Grand Rapids

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