ACLU Sues Michigan For Barring Same-Sex Couples From Fostering Or Adopting

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services for contracting with agencies that discriminate against same-sex couples when placing children in homes.

The state department works with several different child placement agencies that often are affiliated with religious organizations and have rejected same-sex couples looking to adopt or become foster parents because of religious objections, according to an ACLU statement.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of two same-sex couples — Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton — who have attempted to adopt children in Michigan and were rejected because of their same-sex marriages.

The practice violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, as well as the Equal Protection Clause, the ACLU alleges.

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,” ACLU said in a statement. “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.” 

Michigan is not the only state that pays private agencies that end up rejecting couples based on religious objections. ACLU said it’s not just same-sex couples who are at risk either.

“It’s not just same-sex couples that are at risk. Most of these laws also would allow an agency to reject families that don’t share its faith, single-parent families, or any other kind of family that doesn’t meet its religious criteria,” the statement said. “We are hopeful that we will get a ruling in this case that will send a message to state legislatures that the Constitution does not permit these kinds of laws.”

Read the lawsuit below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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