In role reversal, ACLU and same-sex couple join adoption lawsuit

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    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Wednesday morning that they, along with a lesbian couple that has previously sued the state over their right to adopt, are joining a new lawsuit. And it’s one in which a religious charity is seeking to preserve its ability to deny same-sex couples that right.

    Kristy and Dana Dumont | ACLU photo

    The ACLU’s intervening complaint in Buck v. Gordon serves as a full role reversal for both parties from their respective status in a lawsuit the state of Michigan settled earlier this year in favor of Kristy and Dana Dumont.

    Since that time, there have been two lawsuits filed against the state of Michigan as part of an ongoing legal battle over the extent to which groups like St. Vincent Catholic Charities can discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds.

    Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, argued in a statement that “with 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan, we can’t afford to have good families cast aside based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child.”

    The Dumonts originally joined with the ACLU in 2017 to sue the state of Michigan after St. Vincent Catholic Charities denied them adoption rights. In March, Attorney General Dana Nessel settled that lawsuit in their favor, declaring it the state’s opinion that “discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale.”

    Attorney General Dana Nessel | Andrew Roth

    Adoption agencies that want to continue to receive state funding must comply with the state’s rule that they can’t ban same-sex couples.

    Last month, St. Vincent Catholic Charities announced they were suing the state in response. Becket Law, the national firm representing St. Vincent, says the settlement would essentially put St. Vincent and similar charities out of business. Becket also represented St. Vincent as complainants in the Dumonts’ original lawsuit, Dumont v. Lyon.

    “In settling [Dumont v. Lyon], the state noted that discrimination in the public foster care system is not only illegal but undermines the state’s goal of finding a home for every child,” the ACLU’s Cooper said in a statement. “When agencies choose to accept tax dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first.”

    Pro-ACLU rally | Creative Commons

    Another “religious liberty” firm, the Alliance Defending Freedom, filed a second suit against the state in April.

    That same month, Bethany Christian Services, one of St. Vincent’s fellow complainants represented by Becket Law in the original lawsuit, took a different tack. The organization announced it would change its policy to allow adoption by same-sex couples.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson is a former associate editor of the Advance and is now a freelance writer in Chicago. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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