State-funded faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTI people.
The decision comes under a legal settlement announced Friday (22 March). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.
The organization and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel reached the agreement that faith-based agencies funded by the state cannot turn down LGBTI individuals or couples on religious grounds.
Nessel said in a statement: ‘Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoptions services is illegal, no matter the rationale.
‘Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.’
Non-discrimination in Michigan
The law suit alleged St Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services turned same-sex couples away based on their sexuality.
They were thought to be 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.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented St Vincent among other charities, said it will stop the state from working with religious charities.
Attorney Lori Windham said in a statement: ‘The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve. This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.’
Kirsty and Dana Dumont, from Dimondale, expressed joy in their statement: ‘We are hopeful that this will mean more families for children, especially those who have been waiting years for a family to adopt them.
‘And we can’t wait to welcome one of those children into our family.’