A faith-based adoption agency is suing the state of Michigan after they made it illegal for state-funded agencies to discriminate against LGBTI parents.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed the lawsuit on Monday (15 April) on behalf of St Vincent Catholic Charities.
Lawyer Nick Reaves said: ‘The state’s decision to exclude certain agencies and certain very successful agencies like St Vincent simply because of their religious beliefs causes unnecessary harm to the countless kids their (sic) serving now and could be serving in the future merely because the attorney general doesn’t like what St Vincent believes and has believed for over 75 years,’ reports CBS Detroit.
The suit alleges violations of First Amendment rights and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Lansing-based St Vincent Catholic Charities receives state funding.
According to a lawsuit settlement passed in March, they must now provide services to LGBTI people or risk losing that funding. They must provide the services even if it goes against ‘sincerely-held’ beliefs.
Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel said: ‘The law does not provide an agency with discretion to refuse to provide the accepted child or individual with state-contracted foster care case management or adoption services that conflict with its sincerely held religious beliefs.’
St Vincent, along with two other Christian adoption agencies, reportedly provide 1,600 of the states 13,000 adoption and fostering cases.
They’ve threatened to close down their agencies, rather than violate their religious beliefs.
Why did Michigan change the law?
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state of Michigan on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.
The law suit alleged St Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services turned same-sex couples away based on their sexuality.
They reached a settlement that means state-funded faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTI people.
The Christian adoption agencies thought they were protected under a 2015 Republican-enacted law, which meant child placement agencies are not required to provide services that interferes with their religious beliefs.
However, as Michigan contracts private agencies to place children with new families, the law doesn’t apply to the services provided under a contract with the Department of Health and Services.
Under the settlement, the state’s non-discrimination provisions apply to these agencies. This means they cannot turn away otherwise qualified LGBTI people from adopting or fostering kids. Also, it bars them from refusing to perform orientation or training, a home study, or process applications.