Michigan rule allows religious agencies to deny LGBT adoptions | News, Sports, Jobs

LANSING, AP — Faith-based adoption agencies that contract with the state of Michigan can refuse to place children with same-sex couples under a proposed settlement filed in federal court on Tuesday. months after the US Supreme Court ruled for a Catholic charity in a similar case.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said the High Court’s decision against Philadelphia binds the state and limits its ability to enforce a policy of non-discrimination.

“While this outcome is not what we hoped for, we are committed to providing support to the many members of the LGBTQ+ community who wish to open their hearts and homes,” Demetrius Starling, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency, said in a statement.

In 2019, Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities sued the state, challenging a deal announced by Attorney General Dana Nessel to resolve an earlier lawsuit filed against the state by lesbian couples who said they were turned away. by faith-based agencies.

That agreement stated that a 2015 law, supported by Republicans, allowing child placement agencies to refuse services that conflict with their sincere religious beliefs, does not apply if they are under contract with the State.

“We believe this agreement advances the common good, benefits Michigan’s vulnerable children, and upholds the constitutional right to religious freedom that is a cornerstone of our state and our nation,” said David Maluchnik, spokesman for the Michigan Catholic Conference.

Michigan, like most states, contracts with private agencies to place children from troubled homes with new families.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids blocked the Attorney General’s agreement barring faith-based agencies from excluding same-sex couples from services – saying his action was against state law, contracts and to established practice. Settlement talks began after the Supreme Court ruled in June that Philadelphia had wrongfully limited its relationship with a Catholic foster care agency that says its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples.

Under the preliminary settlement, Michigan cannot terminate or block the renewal of St. Vincent’s contracts because the agency does not approve a same-sex or unmarried couple as foster or adoptive parents, place foster child with them or does not conduct a home assessment. The state must pay St. Vincent $550,000 for attorneys’ fees and costs.

The deal still needs to be approved by the judge.

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