Faith-based adoption agencies that contract with the state of Michigan can continue to operate according to their beliefs about sexuality and marriage, despite a new state policy banning agencies from excluding same-sex couples from their services.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker issued a preliminary injunction blocking Michigan from canceling the state-approved contract of St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a faith-based agency that provides foster care and adoption services. The Lansing-based agency will be able to continue partnering with the state while the case is fully litigated.
“The state’s real goal is not to promote nondiscriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the state’s own,” said Jonker in his ruling. He continued in saying that the agency’s practice of holding to their beliefs and referring same-sex and unmarried couples to other agencies is not discriminatory.
In fighting against the state’s attempt to shut them down, St. Vincent Catholic Charities, one of the state’s most successful agencies, joined Chad and Melissa Buck, parents of five children with special needs who were all adopted through the agency.
“St. Vincent has been with us every step of our journey: answering every phone call, coming with us to doctor’s appointments, even bringing us food, as we strive to give our five beautiful children the best future they can have,” said Melissa Buck. “St. Vincent brought our family together, and I’m happy to know they can keep doing their great work helping children find homes.”
“Our nation is facing a foster care crisis, and we are so glad that Michigan’s foster children will continue having all hands on deck to help them find loving forever homes,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, the law firm that took on the case. “The Bucks and St. Vincent Catholic Charities won a victory in Michigan, but there is still work to be done to ensure that faith-based agencies can contribute to ending our nation’s foster care crisis.”
According to Becket, there are around 13,000 children in the state’s foster care system.