LGBTQ Advocates sue HHS, South Carolina for discriminating against same-sex foster parents

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Lambda Legal, the ACLU, ACLU of South Carolina, and South Carolina Equality Coalition are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the state of South Carolina on behalf of a married lesbian couple, Eden Rogers and Brandy Welch, who were turned away by a government-funded foster care agency. The lawsuit alleges the couple was turned away for failing to meet the agency’s religious criteria, which exclude prospective foster parents who are not evangelical Protestant Christian or who are same-sex couples of any faith. Their application in April was denied by Miracle Hill Ministries, South Carolina’s largest state-contracted foster care agency, after South Carolina requested and HHS granted a waiver of federal nondiscrimination rules for federally funded agencies. In so doing, HHS and the State authorized and enabled taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to use religious criteria to exclude families based on their faith and sexual orientation. “We work hard to raise our own two girls in a loving and stable home.

Another adoption agency sues Michigan over LGBTQ adoption policy

GRAND RAPIDS — Another Catholic adoption agency is suing Michigan over a policy that requires any agency with a state contract to work with LGBTQ couples. The Detroit News reported that Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit on behalf of Catholic Charities West Michigan in the state Court of Claims on Thursday. They claim the policy violates a 2015 Michigan law and the agency’s rights to free speech, free exercise and equal protection. Alliance Defending Freedom is a right-wing legal advocacy group that has been involved a lot of anti-LGBTQ legal issues, including a lawsuit against an Illinois school district’s transgender facilities policy and the Masterpiece Cakeshop saga. The suit wants to stop the policy because it misinterprets state law, violates Catholic Charities’ constitutional rights “and adopts the anti-religious views and policy preferences of defendant Attorney General Dana Nessel — who has previously criticized Michigan’s statutory protections for faith-based foster care and adoptions providers as ‘a victor for the hate mongers,’” according to the newspaper.

Businesses, orgs push Tennessee to reject anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

NASHVILLE — Lambda Legal and Amazon joined the ranks of organizations opposing a Tennessee bill that would allow religious adoption agencies to deny LGBTQ couples. The bill, passed earlier in April, would stop an adoption agency in the state from being “required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in any child placement for foster care or adoption that would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions,” according to The Hill. Supporters have said the legislation is needed to protect religious adoption agencies if they decide not to allow LGBTQ couples to adopt. It was submitted by St. Rep. Tim Rudd.

Christian adoption agency to comply with Michigan’s LGBTQ adoption settlement

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Bethany Christian Services will comply with a legal settlement that requires adoption agencies with state contracts to work with LGBTQ couples, the Detroit News reported on Monday. Michigan reached that settlement with the ACLU in March. It also comes just a week after St. Vincent Catholic Charities filed a lawsuit against the requirement.

Adoption agency sues Michigan over new rules to work with LGBTQ couples

DETROIT — St. Vincent Catholic Charities and an adoptive mother filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a recent Michigan settlement last month that bans state contracts with foster and adoption agencies that refuse to work with LGBTQ couples. The agency and the mother, Melissa Buck, allege the new rules violated their First Amendment rights. The Detroit News reported that the group is represented by religious liberty group, Becket Law. The lawsuit was filed against both state and federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Anti-LGBT adoption amendment removed from U.S. House appropriations bill

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FY19 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, Education, and Defense. The final version of the bill, already passed by the Senate, removes the “Aderholt Amendment” — language that was added to the bill in the House appropriations committee in July that would have required states to allow taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to turn away qualified parents based on religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or family structure. Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer for Family Equality Council, said today: “Over 300 child welfare, civil rights and faith organizations under the umbrella of the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign successfully mobilized to press Congress to say no to depriving foster children of loving homes and needed services. The Aderholt amendment had broken the cardinal rule of child welfare — that the needs of children should come first.”

The Aderholt Amendment also required states to allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny a broad range of child welfare services to foster children based on religious or moral beliefs, cutting their funding if they did not comply. The 44 states that prohibit such service denials and discrimination would have stood to lose up to 15% of their child welfare funding, placing a staggering total of $1.04 billion of this funding at risk.