"My Trusty Gavel" by Brian Turner / CC BY 2.0

Court Says Adoption Agencies Can Turn Away Same-Sex Couples

Oct 1, 2019

By Nico Lang

Discrimination is again the law of the land in Michigan. On Thursday, a Grand Rapids judge rejected the attorney general’s attempt to stop adoption centers from turning away to same-sex couples. The ruling allows state-funded agencies to deny placement to households that don’t align with the organization’s beliefs.

In March, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the state had reached a settlement after the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of two same-sex couples that had been refused adoption services under its anti-LGBTQ+ laws. The Great Lakes State is one of 10 that allows religious agencies to discriminate against adoptive parents on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

But after Nessel was elected in the 2018 midterms, she announced that as Michigan’s first lesbian attorney general, she would not defend the discriminatory policy in court.

On Thursday, Judge Robert Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan issued a preliminary injunction against the deal Nessel struck to end the ACLU litigation and stop faith-based discrimination against same-sex couples. Jonker, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled there’s nothing discriminatory about St. Vincent Catholic Charities — the organization at the center of the lawsuit — acting in the name of its sincerely held religious beliefs.

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