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Michigan settlement stop adoption agencies from barring LGBTQ families

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has reached a settlement that would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to end contracts with adoption agencies if they discriminate against LGBTQ couples.

From the Detroit News:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed the lawsuit in 2017 on behalf of Kristy and Dana Dumont of Dimondale and Erin and Rebecca Busk Sutton of Detroit after they sought to adopt a child out of Michigan’s foster care system, but were rejected by agencies with religious objections to same-sex couples.

The couples’ lawsuit was filed against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Children’s Services Agency. The complaint centered around faith-based agencies Bethany Christian Services and St. Vincent Catholic Charities, which was named as an intervenor-defendant in the case.

The settlement is a win for Michigan’s 12,000 children in foster care, said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, in a Friday statement.

“When agencies choose to accept taxpayer dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first,” Cooper said.

A lawyer representing St. Vincent Catholic Charities maintained the settlement violates a Michigan law enacted in 2015 that banned the state from taking adverse action against an agency that declined to provide services based on religious beliefs.

“The Michigan AG and the ACLU are trying to stop the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies,” said Becket senior counsel Lori Windham. “The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, told the News that the settlement is proof Nessel, the state’s first out LGBTQ AG, took office to “further her own personal political agenda.”

Nessel’s office maintained the agreement does not conflict with the 2015 law because it applies to “private action,” not state-contracted services.

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