Michigan Adoption Agencies Must Now Serve LGBTQ Parents

According to the ACLU, Michigan is the first state to change its policy on this issue.

There are more than 13,000 in the state welfare system in Michigan according to the ACLU, but, until this week, many LGBTQ people in the state were unable to foster or adopt children due to sexual orientation-based discrimination by state-funded religious adoption agencies. The agencies were previously allowed to claim that refusing to serve LGBTQ potential parents violated their religious anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

However, after a settlement was announced this week, state-funded adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents. While a lawsuit that challenged the practice was filed by the ACLU in 2017, the current Attorney General Dana Nessel recently negotiated a settlement in the case. Under the terms of the settlement, state-funded or contracted agencies are prohibited from denying same-sex couples the opportunity to foster or adopt based on religious objections to homosexuality.

“Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,” the Attorney General said in a statement. “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 is a direct violation of the contract every child placing agency enters into with the state.”

The organization that opposed the requirement to serve LGBTQ potential foster and adoptive parents, the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, alleges the lawsuit was trying to prevent the state from working with faith-based agencies. In a statement, the attorney representing the organization said that the result of the lawsuit was “tragic” and that “[t]housands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve.”

According to the ACLU, Michigan is the first state to change its policy on this issue. Eight other states still allow state-funded agencies to turn away LGBTQ couples and others who don’t meet the agencies religious tests. In a year of bad news for queer Americans, though, this stands out as a bright spot; it shows that we are making progress in some areas.

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