Faith-Based Adoption Agency Sues After Michigan Settlement

Apr 15, 2019

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Faith-based adoption agencies sued the state of Michigan on Monday, 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 federal court on behalf of St. Vincent Catholic Charities, which receives state funding to help place children from troubled homes with new families. Also suing are two adoptive parents and a former foster child who was adopted.

"Faith-based agencies like St. Vincent consistently do the best work because of their faith, and we need more agencies like them helping children — not fewer," Mark Rienzi, Becket's president, said in a statement.

The suit was brought less than a month after the legal agreement was announced by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and the American Civil Liberties of Michigan, which sued the state in 2017 on behalf of lesbian couples who alleged they had been turned away because they are gay.

Nessel, who could not immediately be reached for comment Monday, has said such discrimination is illegal.

A 2015 Republican-enacted law says child-placement agencies are not required to provide any services that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs. But the settlement says the law does not apply if agencies are under contract with the state.

Rienzi said Nessel's actions "do nothing but harm the thousands of at-risk children in desperate need of loving homes."

As of February, Bethany Christian Services, Catholic Charities and St. Vincent were responsible for more than 1,600, or 12 percent, of the state's 13,000-plus foster care and adoption cases.

Faith-based agencies have said they will shut down their adoption and foster care services rather than violate their religious beliefs.

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