Michigan Cites SCOTUS Ruling for Allowing Some Adoption Agencies to Deny Same-Sex Couples

Catholic adoption agencies in Michigan can continue to deny same-sex couples the chance at adopting or fostering a child after the state cited a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed a Catholic charity in Philadelphia to do the same thing.

Michigan child welfare officials said they will continue to contract with adoption and foster care agencies that do not work with same-sex, LGBTQ or unmarried couples after the state settled a lawsuit with a Catholic charity that had sued in 2019 when the state stopped contracting with agencies that refused same-sex or LGBTQ individuals, The Detroit News reported.

"While this outcome is not what we hoped for, we are committed to providing support to the many members in the LGBTQ+ community who want to open their hearts and their homes," the Associated Press quoted a statement from Demetrius Starling, executive director of the Children's Services Agency.

In 2021, the Supreme Court found that the city of Philadelphia had violated the First Amendment rights of a Catholic adoption and foster care agency when the city refused to work with the agency until it agreed to place children with same-sex couples.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a majority opinion last year that the Catholic Social Services agency "seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else," according to the AP.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services followed the SCOTUS ruling and settled the lawsuit Tuesday with Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic charities, the agency that sued the state in 2019 after it refused to contract with adoption and foster care agencies that wouldn't place children with same-sex and unmarried couples, The Detroit News reported.

"We are relieved and overjoyed to know that St. Vincent can finally get back to placing vulnerable children with families like ours without the threat of closure," said Melissa Buck, who sued the state with her husband Chad alongside St. Vincent, according to The Detroit News.

Most states in the country, including Michigan, contract with private agencies to help place children with adoptive parents or into foster homes. The Detroit News said St. Vincent is one of 76 agencies the state contracts with.

According to the settlement, the state must pay the agency $550,000 in attorney and court fees. The AP said Michigan cannot terminate or block St. Vincent's contract for refusing to work with same-sex couples or couples who are not married and who are looking to become foster or adoptive parents.

Michigan Adoption Agencies Can Refuse Same-Sex Couples
Citing a 2021 Supreme Court ruling, Michigan will continue to contract with faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that refuse to work with same-sex couples. Above, the U.S. Supreme Court is pictured. Mariam Zuhaib/AP Photo