Michigan Won't Fund Adoption Agencies That Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Image via Getty/Faith Townsend/Eym

Any agency contracts found to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents in Michigan will now be terminated

The state of Michigan will no longer provide state funding to adoption agencies that discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents due to religious objections, thanks to a new legal settlement.

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services is officially required to maintain a nondiscrimination provision in its adoption agency and foster parent contracts. Any contracts that are found to have discriminating exemptions against LGBTQ individuals or couples will be terminated.

This is all thanks to a settlement that stems from an ACLU lawsuit filed in 2017 on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who spent her teenage years in Michigan’s foster care system. The couples say they were turned away by Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Charities because of their sexual orientation.

Currently, the state contracts with 59 private adoption and foster care agencies. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has not reported how many agencies don’t work with same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals, but 20 of those agencies are affiliated with religious organizations.

The state contracts with 59 private adoption and foster care agencies across the state and while the MDHHS wasn’t able to say specifically how many don’t work with same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals, 20 of the agencies are affiliated with religious organizations.

That is not an insignificant number. This is a huge win for LGBTQ prospective parents in Michigan.

On the opposite end of giving LGBTQ prospective parents’ their due rights is South Carolina. The federal government has agreed to make it legal for federally-funded foster care agencies in South Carolina to deny foster services to same-sex or non-Christian couples. South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, is a Republican Trump supporter who requested the waiver to allow the state to deny LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents’ their rights.

Apparently in South Carolina, it’s perfectly fine to jeopardize children who need loving, stable homes — as long as the “religious freedoms” of politicians and foster agency administrators aren’t impeded. It’s truly awful.

Thankfully, Michigan has taken this important and progressive step — though it’s unbelievably unfortunate any state or agency has the right to discriminate potentially loving parents based on their sexual orientation.

The Michigan lawsuit was negotiated with Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is the first lesbian to be elected to a statewide office in Michigan, is passionate about standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

“Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,” Nessel says in a statement. “Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.”

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