News Brief: ACLU Sues Michigan for Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT Couples

The lawsuit highlights the unconstitutional nature of state laws that allow adoption agencies to deny services based on religious beliefs.

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ON September 20, 2017, the ACLU and ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit against Michigan state officials for allowing state-funded adoption agencies to turn away same-sex prospective parents on religious grounds.

The suit was brought on behalf of two same-sex couples, a former foster parent and youth. “We are ready to open our home and our hearts to a child, but were rejected because we’re a same-sex couple,” said one of the plaintiffs, Kristy Dumont. She and her wife were turned away by two agencies as they sought to adopt an older child.

While the agencies have defended their actions, citing a 2015 state law that allows agencies to decline services due to religious beliefs, in a post on its website, the ACLU highlighted the unconstitutional nature of this law:

“Allowing state-contracted agencies to screen out prospective families based on religious criteria not only harms the children most in need, it is also unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which bars the use of religious criteria in the provision of government services like foster care and adoption services for children in state custody. And it violates the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against same-sex couples.”

The ACLU hopes to bring attention to similar state laws in Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas (passed this year), as well as North Dakota, Virginia, and Mississippi, that are preventing children in foster care from joining qualified, loving families.

 

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