The Attorney General in Michigan reached a court settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union that bars adoption agencies in the state from refusing to serve gay or lesbian couples or individuals.
“Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. “Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.” Nessel was elected last year and took office in January. She said she began settlement talks immediately.
Religious activists contended that the settlement would infringe on their religious liberty and force them to stop serving as a child services agency. Becket Fund senior counsel Lori Windham said in a statement, “Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve. This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.”
Relatedly, the US bishops’ conference announced its opposition to the Equality Act, a federal proposal that would extend non-discrimination protections based on both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The bill would affect many different areas of public policy, from social services to health care to education.
The bishops voiced their objection in a letter sent to all members of Congress and was signed jointly by Bishop Frank Dewane, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, chair of the Committee on Religious Liberty, and Bishop James Conley, chair of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
“As a nation we have a laudable history of confronting and overcoming unjust discrimination and attempting to balance the rights of various groups. As Catholics, we share in this work of justice,” the letter stated. “Rather than offering meaningful protections for individuals, however, the Equality Act would impose sweeping regulations to the detriment of society as a whole…. Furthermore, the Act also fails to recognise the difference between the person – who has dignity and is entitled to recognition of it – and the actions of a person, which have ethical and social ramifications. Conflating the two will introduce a plethora of further legal complications.”