Michigan Sued After Gay Coupled Denied Ability to Adopt

Juanmonino  Getty Images

Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court against the State of MI on behalf of two homosexual couples, challenging Michigan's law that allows child-placement agencies to offer foster and adoption services consistent with the organizations' deeply held religious beliefs.

The number of religious exemption laws have almost doubled this year, with seven states now having laws that allow religious-based discrimination against same-sex couples who want to adopt or foster children. Kristy Dumont says the couple was turned away by two Catholic-affiliated agencies when they tried to adopt.

"Child placing agencies should be focused on the needs of the children in their care", the ACLU of MI says on its website.

In their post, the ACLU referenced the fact that "Michigan outsources child welfare services to private agencies", who "enter into contracts with the state to care for children in the foster care system - including finding them appropriate foster and adoptive families - and are paid with taxpayer dollars to do this critical work".

"We are hopeful that in this case we will get a ruling that will send a loud message to state legislatures that the Constitution does not permit these kinds of laws that deprive children of loving families for no reason other than their failure to satisfy an agency's religious test", ACLU attorney Leslie Cooper said during a phone conference announcing the lawsuit.

MI is being sued over same-sex couple adoptions and foster care placements. "The state should do all that it can to make sure children in the foster care system have access to all available, qualified families". If they decline to work with same-sex couples, they're required to give applicants a list of other providers. She believes the legislation would have blocked her adoption because her foster father was an atheist.

"They are a child-welfare agency paid by the state and they need to put children's welfare first", said Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the ACLU of MI. There are similar laws in Texas, South Dakota, Alabama, North Dakota, Mississippi, and Virginia.

The ACLU of MI said it was the first such legal challenge filed in the state. This suit challenging Michigan's law is mean-spirited, divisive and intolerant.

"Focus on the Family strongly supports the religious freedom rights of all businesses and organizations, including faith-based adoption agencies", Jim Daly, president of the Christian organization, Focus on the Family commented Wednesday. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and names as defendants Nick Lyon, in his official capacity as director of the Michigan DHHS, and Herman McCall, in his official capacity as director of the Michigan Children's Services Agency, a sub-agency of the DHHS.

MI can't afford to have families like the Dumonts and the Busk-Suttons turned away based on criteria that have nothing to do with their ability to care for a child. "Government services must not be provided based on religious standards and taxpayer money must not be used to fund agencies that discriminate based on religion or sexual orientation".

Related News: