Wed, Apr 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Michigan sued by adoption agencies over LGBT rule

AP, LANSING, Michigan

Faith-based adoption agencies on Monday sued the state of Michigan, challenging a settlement that prevents them from refusing to put children in LGBT homes for religious reasons.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed the lawsuit in western Michigan’s US District Court on behalf of Lansing-based St Vincent Catholic Charities.

It is among more than 90 agencies receiving state funding to help place children from troubled homes with new families, according to the complaint.

“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 they’re 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 Washington-based Becket.

The lawsuit also names Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the US Department of Health and Human Services and other government officials.

Also suing are two adoptive parents and a former foster child who was adopted.

The suit alleges violations of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It was brought less than a month after the legal agreement was announced by Nessel and the American Civil Liberties of Michigan, which in 2017 sued the state on behalf of two lesbian couples who said they had been turned away because they are gay.

Nessel has said such discrimination is illegal.

Nessel had not yet reviewed the complaint, but it appears the plaintiffs’ attorneys do not understand the settlement agreement, spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said.

“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,” she said.

A 2015 Republican-enacted law says that child-placement agencies are not required to provide any services that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

However, the settlement says that the law does not apply if agencies are under contract with the state — a determination challenged by those suing.

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