(LifeSiteNews) – The conservative attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are declaring victory after reaching an agreement with Michigan officials regarding Christian adoption agencies’ right to insist on homes with both a mother and a father.
In 2019, Michigan Democrat Attorney General Dana Nessel signed an agreement to end the state’s financial support to adoption and foster care agencies that adhere to religious principles regarding adoption and homosexuality.
The settlement required Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to adhere to federal rules regarding discrimination in its contracts with faith-based foster care and adoption agencies, and called on Michigan to terminate contracts with agencies that either “discriminate” against same-sex couples or “LGBTQ” individuals who would otherwise qualify to become foster or adoptive parents, or that refer them to other agencies.
The move sparked a lawsuit, with the religious liberty nonprofit Becket Fund suing both Michigan and the federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) on behalf of adoptive services contractor St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Chad & Melissa Buck, a married couple that has adopted five kids through the agency.
In December 2019, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker ruled in favor of St. Vincent, issuing a preliminary injunction against Nessel. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of religious adoption agencies in a different case, out of Philadelphia, that nonetheless had ramifications for the Michigan fight.
The state finally admitted defeat in a settlement agreement filed in January, recognizing the binding nature of the Philadelphia ruling, and now ADF is declaring the “case closed.” Under the terms of a stipulated court order and judgment, MDHHS acknowledges that acting against Catholic Charities over its preference for opposite-sex homes would violate the First Amendment, and agrees to pay $250,000 toward ADF’s expenses and attorney’s fees.
“More adoption and foster care providers mean more children have the chance to be adopted or cared for by a foster family,” ADF senior counsel Jeremiah Galus said in a statement. “Catholic Charities West Michigan meets a critical need as one of the region’s largest social service providers, reuniting children with their birth parents and placing foster kids in loving homes. We are pleased Catholic Charities can continue its vital mission serving vulnerable families in Michigan without being punished by the government simply because it’s operating according to its religious beliefs — the very reason the ministry exists in the first place.”
As ADF argued in the Philadelphia case, there is a “national shortage of loving homes for our most needy children: those who have been neglected or abused and are now in state custody,” making it especially harmful to “driv[e] away faith-based adoption providers because those officials dislike the providers’ religious beliefs about marriage.”
In addition, a variety of social science literature supports the conviction that children are best served by homes with both a mother and a father, as each sex tends to bring unique strengths and emphases to parenting, which complement one another; and gives children a positive role model of their own sex as well as helping them understand and relate to the opposite sex. By contrast, a homosexual male couple would by definition lack a mother, and a lesbian couple would be unable to provide a father.