In a stunning blow to LGBTQ+ families, a proposed settlement filed in Federal Court Tuesday would allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan that contract with the state to decline to place children with same-sex couples.
The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed in 2019 by Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, in response to a previous lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple who claimed they were being discriminated against by faith-based agencies, decided that faith-based agencies could not refuse to provide services to same-sex couples. But U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ruled that the policy conflicted with state law, contracts and established practice. The settlement talks began after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for a faith-based charity based in Philadelphia in a similar case, effectively ending the Michigan case.
“This is a disappointing turn of events in a case that has been ongoing for a few years,” Equality Michigan Executive Director Erin Knott told Pride Source. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be LGBTQ+ kids and LGBTQ+ parents that are going to be impacted most. Qualified prospective adoptive parents are potentially going to be impacted.”
Knott pointed out that statistics show same-sex couples foster and adopt at a larger rate than straight people do.
“I think it’s obvious denying services to gay and lesbian parents reduces the number of potential homes and that impacts our kids — LGBTQ+ kids [and] kids who are straight — and deny them the opportunity of finding a permanent and loving home to provide that safety net.”
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Michigan cannot cancel or prevent renewal of St. Vincent’s contracts and the state must pay St. Vincent’s legal fees, which total $550,000.