Judge throws out rules barring adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBT couples

The judge sided with religious adoption agencies that reject LGBT parents

A federal judge in Michigan has thrown out rules that cuts off state funding for adoption agencies who refused to place children with same-sex couples.

District Judge Robert Jonker sided with a Catholic adoption agency that refuses to place children in homes with LGBT+ parents, blocking non-discrimination rules imposed by the state’s out Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel.

The judge accused Nessel of carrying out a “targeted attack on a sincerely held religious belief” because she had publicly condemned discrimination against LGBT parents.

Nessel’s non-discrimination rules, the product of a previous court settlement, had made clear that adoption agencies would lose state funding if they “turn away… an otherwise potentially qualified LGBTQ individual or same-sex couple that may be a suitable foster or adoptive family.”

In his ruling on Thursday (September 26), the judge issued a preliminary injunction against the non-discrimination rules.

Adoption agency free to reject same-sex couples after injunction

Lansing, Michigan adoption agency St Vincent, which says rejecting LGBT+ parents is “consistent with its Catholic mission”, had brought the legal action against the Attorney General.

He added: “What this case is about is whether St. Vincent may continue to do this work and still profess and promote the traditional Catholic belief that marriage as ordained by God is for one man and one woman.”

Adoption agency: Before becoming Michigan's Attorney General, Dana Nessel successfully sued for equal marriage in the state

Before becoming Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel successfully sued for equal marriage in the state (Bill Pugliano/Getty)

The judge, a George W Bush appointee, accused the state of discrimination against “traditional Catholic religious beliefs on marriage”, describing non-discrimination rules as “a State-orthodoxy test that prevents Catholic believers from participating.”

He added that Nessel “put St Vincent in the position of either giving up its belief or giving up its contract with the State.”

Michigan Attorney General slams discriminatory agencies

Dana Nessel, who successfully led the case for equal marriage in Michigan before becoming Attorney General, responded: “Now and forever I will stand and fight to support the constitutional precepts of separation of church and state and equal protection under the law for all Michigan residents and for every American.”

She said previously: “Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale.

“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.”