MICHIGAN: ACLU Sues State Over Gay Adoption

USA Today reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Wednesday against the state of Michigan challenging a law that allows adoption agencies to spurn potential LGBT parents under the guise of religion.

Religious exemption laws let people, churches and sometimes corporations cite religious beliefs as a reason not to enforce a law — such as declining to marry a same-sex couple or letting state-funded foster agencies refuse to place kids with same-sex couples.

The Michigan adoption law leads to “fewer options for children” when the pool of qualified adopters is diluted because of unreasonable legislation, ACLU lawyer Leslie Cooper said. “There is a desperate need for families. We need more families, not fewer.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the state’s controversial bill into law in June 2015. The law in essence lets faith-based agencies say no to prospective parents if saying yes violates the group’s religious or moral beliefs.

The ACLU is hoping for a “clearer ruling” in court that says private agencies — ones receiving taxpayer dollars — can’t turn away potential adopters if they don’t share the agency’s religious convictions, Cooper said.

From the ACLU’s blog:

Couples like Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton experienced this discrimination first-hand. Having seen recruitment emails featuring photos and bios of children in foster care waiting to be adopted, Kristy and Dana were moved and felt they could provide a loving family for a child in need.

They contacted a state-contracted agency to start the process. When the agency representative learned they were two women, she told them the agency does not work with same-sex couples. Kristy and Dana made another attempt with another agency and got the same answer. Erin and Rebecca had a similar experience when they reached out to an agency about adopting a child out of foster care.

Michigan can’t afford to have families like the Dumonts and the Busk-Suttons turned away based on criteria that have nothing to do with their ability to care for a child. 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.