Judge mulling whether faith-based adoption agencies can turn away LGBTQ people as lawsuit plays out

Aug 23, 2019

A federal judge is weighing whether to allow faith-based adoption agencies to keep turning away LGBTQ potential parents while an underlying lawsuit plays out.

Right now, the state’s policy is to not provide state dollars to agencies that turn away LGBTQ prospective parents. That goes against a 2015 law allowing such agencies to turn away clients for religious reasons. That law had been contested and Attorney General Dana Nessel settled the lawsuit by essentially agreeing to not enforce the law.

On Thursday, a federal judge for the Western District of Michigan heard arguments for a few issues. One is a motion to dismiss the case. Another is whether agencies have to follow the policy if the case keeps going forward.

St. Vincent Catholic Charities says they’ll have to close their doors if forced to work with LGBTQ couples.     

“Families like mine will be left without the support we need to care for our children,” said Melissa Buck after oral arguments. She’s a mother who adopted children through St. Vincent, and a plaintiff in the case. “Fewer families will be recruited to foster and adopt kids and foster children will be left without forever families.”

The state said you can’t discriminate and get state dollars.

The ACLU of Michigan is siding with the state. ACLU attorney Jay Kaplan said after arguments on Thursday, “Allowing contracted agencies to turn away families who might be very well qualified to provide loving and stable homes to children is not in the best interest of children.”

Judge Robert Jonker said he will take the arguments under advisement and issue a written opinion.