Discrimination by Foster Care and Adoption Agencies

September 14, 2018

In September 2017, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s practice of permitting state-contracted child placement agencies to reject qualified same-sex couples based on the agencies’ religious beliefs. 

The State of Michigan is responsible for approximately 13,000 children who are in the state’s foster care system, usually because they were removed from their families due to abuse or neglect. Although the state is responsible for finding appropriate foster and adoptive families to care for these children, it has contracted out public adoption and foster care services to private agencies, which it pays with taxpayer dollars. 

Even though adoption and foster care placement is a public function, the state allows these publicly funded agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples based on the agencies’ religious beliefs. This practice is not only unconstitutional, it denies innocent children in need of a home the opportunity to be placed with loving families who want to care for them.

In March 2018, St. Vincent Catholic Charities and individuals affiliated with that organization were permitted to intervene on the side of the state. In September 2018, Judge Paul Borman denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss

(Dumont v. Lyon; ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Jay Kaplan and Michael J. Steinberg; National ACLU Attorneys Leslie Cooper and Dan Mach; Cooperating Attorneys Ann-Elizabeth Ostrager, Jason Schnier, Garrard Beeney, and Ryan Galisewski of Sullivan & Cromwell.)

Read case background.

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