A Christian adoption agency in Michigan is suing for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ parents.
St. Vincent Catholic Charities filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan alleging that a recent settlement between Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and two lesbian couples violates their rights.
In 2015, the state of Michigan passed a law that allowed child-placement agencies to refuse to provide any services that conflicted with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In 2017, two lesbian couples sued the state after they were allegedly turned away by an adoption agency for being gay. When Nessel, a Democrat, was elected, she started the process of settling the suit, and last month the settlement was announced.
The settlement says that the state will not allow adoption agencies that have contracts with the state to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Now St. Vincent, with help from the far-right legal group Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, filed a suit that argues that their First Amendment rights are violated by the settlement, as well as their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“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 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,” said Nick Reaves, a lawyer with the Becket Fund.
A spokesperson for the attorney general said that she has not reviewed the lawsuit yet, but she believes that the plaintiffs don’t understand the settlement, since it only applies to agencies that have a state contract.
“Upon accepting a referral, 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,” the spokesperson told CBS Detroit.
Last month, the ACLU praised the settlement.
“Our children need every family that is willing and able to provide them with a loving home,” Leslie Cooper, the deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement.
“When agencies choose to accept taxpayer dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first.”