Michigan adoption agencies that are funded by the state can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents.
Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel reached a settlement with lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union last week that bans state-contracted adoption agencies from using religious objections to turn away LGBTQ individuals or same-sex couples.
“Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,” Nessel said in a statement. “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 is a direct violation of the contract every child placing agency enters into with the state,” she said.
The settlement ends a 2017 lawsuit, in which the ACLU sued Michigan on behalf of two same-sex couples who claimed they were denied service from two private, religiously affiliated adoption agencies due to their sexual orientation.
The ACLU said a 2015 law that allows agencies to deny services that don’t follow their religious beliefs doesn’t apply to agencies affiliated with Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.
“This is a win for children in foster care and for all families, including same-sex couples, who want to adopt,” ACLU of Michigan tweeted after Nessel announced the settlement.
Proponents of the settlement say the new policy will allow more children to be adopted since more prospective parents will be eligible.
But the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit whose mission is to protect the free expression of all faiths, believes otherwise. The organization, which represented St. Vincent Catholic Charities (one of the defendants in the case) claims Nessel and the ACLU are trying to prevent the state from working with faith-based agencies.
“The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve,” Becket’s Senior Counsel Lori Winham said in a statement. Winham added that the settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.