Thursday, September 21, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Challenges Michigan’s Religious Exemption for Adoption Agencies

Written by Don Byrd

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan officials targets the state’s practice of allowing child-placement agencies that receive taxpayer funds to refuse on religious grounds to serve same-sex couples seeking to adopt a child. The complaint alleges the exemption violates the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs, the lawsuit asserts, object to their taxpayer dollars subsidizing religious views, and argue that the publicly funded adoption services should be bound by the same requirements as the state in placing children.

Here is an excerpt from the complaint:

All plaintiffs are Michigan taxpayers who object to their taxpayer dollars being used to pay for public child welfare services that are provided based on religious standards rather than professional child welfare standards. And all Plaintiffs object to the use of taxpayer funds to underwrite and endorse religious beliefs to which they do not subscribe.

DHHS itself could not deny children in the foster care system access to qualified prospective foster and adoptive parents based on religious criteria. For example, DHHS could not reject applicants on the basis of a religious objection to placing children with non-Christian, single-parent or same-sex parent families. Nor could DHHS refuse to accept prospective foster and adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation. The same is true when the State delegates this government function to private agencies and pays them with taxpayer dollars. In other words, private agencies performing a public function with taxpayer dollars and under contract with the State cannot perform actions that would be unconstitutional if performed directly by the State.

For more, see the Courthouse News report here.

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