Attorneys for the ACLU and ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to challenge the state’s practice of permitting state-funded child placement agencies to use religious criteria to turn away lesbian and gay prospective foster and adoptive parents. The legislature passed a law in 2015 with the purpose of codifying that practice.
There are currently 13,000 children in the state welfare system. Our lawsuit states that the State of Michigan is hurting its most vulnerable children and violating the Constitution by allowing taxpayer-funded child placement agencies to deny these children qualified foster and adoptive families based on religious eligibility criteria that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child.
Child placing agencies should be focused on the needs of the children in their care. Decisions about adoption and foster family placements should be made based on the best interest of the child, not the religious beliefs of the agency. In addition, taxpayer money should not be used to fund agencies that discriminate based on religion or sexual orientation.
UPDATE: Lawsuit settled!
The state of Michigan announced on March 22, 2019, that it will require all taxpayer funded, state-contracted child welfare agencies to accept all qualified families, including same-sex couples. It will no longer permit agencies to turn away same-sex couples based on their religious objection to these families. This is a victory for our clients, other same-sex couples in Michigan, and most importantly, the children in Michigan’s child welfare system, who will now have access to more loving and qualified families.
Michigan is the first state to reverse course on this issue. Eight states still allow taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to use religious eligibility criteria to turn away foster and adoptive families who are same-sex couples, members of minority faiths, and otherwise don’t meet the agency’s religious test.
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District Court (E.D. Mich.)