DETROIT A federal district court in Michigan ruled today that a challenge to the state of Michigan's practice of allowing discrimination against same-sex couples in the public foster care system can move forward.
The American Civil Liberties Union argued that permitting state-contracted, taxpayer-funded child placing agencies to exclude prospective adoptive families headed by same-sex couples based on religious objections to such families violates the Constitution. The plaintiffs, Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton, who seek to provide forever families to children in the foster care system, were turned away by two state-contracted agencies because they are same-sex couples.
The ruling follows a decision by a federal court in Philadelphia involving similar issues. In that case, a faith-based foster care agency claimed that the city of Philadelphia violated its religious freedom by requiring agencies to accept all qualified families including same-sex couples in its public foster care work. In today's decision, the court recognized that the First Amendment not only permits governments to require their contracted agencies to comply with non-discrimination requirements; the decision also prohibits governments from allowing the use of religious criteria to exclude same-sex couples.
Leslie Cooper, deputy director of ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project, issued the following statement in response:
"In America right now, there are over 118,000 children in the foster care system awaiting adoption. Allowing good families to be turned away because they don't meet a religious litmus test denies children families they desperately need. The use of religious standards for participation in a government program also violates the Constitution. Couples like Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton, who want to open their hearts and homes to a child in need, should be judged on one thing: their capacity to provide love and support to a child, not whether they pass a religious test."
This statement is available online here: www.aclu.org/news/federal-court-michigan-allows-challenge-discriminatory-adoption-placement-practices-continue .
—From a press release