Second firm sues Michigan over same-sex adoption settlement

    Updated 3:48 p.m.
    “Religious liberty” firm the Alliance Defending Freedom announced on Friday that it has sued Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Attorney General Dana Nessel over the latter’s settlement last month that stipulates that adoption agencies contracting with the state can’t bar same-sex couples.
    Kristy and Dana Dumont | ACLU photo

    The lawsuit is the second filed against the parties in question this month, after Becket Law filed suit over the same issue on April 15. Becket Law had previously intervened opposing a lawsuit filed by Kristy and Dana Dumont where they argued their civil rights were violated by St. Vincent Christian Charities’ refusal to allow them to adopt.

    Another religious adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, which had joined with St. Vincent’s in the original lawsuit, has instead opted to work with same-sex couples under the state’s rule.

    In a blog post Friday, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Sarah Kramer alleged, “Clearly, the attorney general has one goal in mind: to shut out faith-based foster care and adoption providers,” and that “This is anti-religious hostility, plain and simple – and it forces children to pay the price.”

    The group filed the lawsuit on behalf of Catholic Charities West Michigan, which they argue “cannot perform home studies that certify same-sex couples as appropriate adoptive or foster parents or recommend specific adoption or foster placement to such couples” due to their religious beliefs, as reported by the Detroit News Friday.

    In a statement, Nessel spokesperson Kelly Rossman-McKinney said that “we just learned of this additional lawsuit and have not yet had an opportunity to review it. As with all pending litigation, however, we’re not in a position to comment on the specifics of this or any other case.”*

    Dana Nessel
    Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks at the Planned Parenthood summit, April 16, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    Nessel argued in her March settlement that religious adoption agencies forfeit their right to discriminate against same-sex couples when they enter into a contract with the state to provide adoption and foster services. Those groups say that they’re protected under a 2015 state law that explicitly allowed such discrimination.

    In a statement last month, Nessel said that “discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale… Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child; it is a direct violation of the contract every child placing agency enters into with the state.”

    The Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawsuit, Catholic Charities West Michigan v. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, was filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, while Becket Law’s suit, Buck v. Gordon, was filed in the Southern Division of Michigan’s Western District Court.

    This story was updated with comment from the Attorney General’s office.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. 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. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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