A federal court in Detroit heard oral arguments Thursday in a case that threatens the religious freedom of foster and adoption agencies in Michigan. The American Civil Liberties Union in December 2017 sued the state to stop it from working with agencies that refused to place children with same-sex couples because of their Biblical beliefs about marriage. The legal group Becket filed a motion to dismiss the case on behalf of St. Vincent Catholic Charities and several foster and adoptive families.
“St. Vincent rescues children from the most vulnerable, most disadvantaged backgrounds like mine and gives them a chance to be part of a loving family and have a normal, healthy, happy childhood,” said Shamber Flore, a former foster child. “We can’t let the ACLU take that away.”
A 2015 Michigan law allows institutions to refuse placing children with same-sex couples based on “sincerely held religious beliefs contained in a written policy.” The ACLU claims this law protects discrimination.
Both parties in the lawsuit agree the state should not allow anything that would hinder adoptions, but they disagree on how St. Vincent fits into the equation.
“The ACLU is trying to punish St. Vincent because of its beliefs, but the only casualties from its needless lawsuit are the kids,” said Stephanie Barclay, a lawyer with Becket. “Shutting down one of the most effective adoption agencies in the city helps no one and instead hurts thousands of vulnerable children.”
This case is one of many involving religious-affiliated adoption agencies across the United States. The court will decide the Michigan case in August. —Charissa Crotts