State Contracted Adoption Agencies in Michigan Can Now Turn Away LGBT Couples Again

Last week, District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids, Mich., ruled that religious-based adoption agencies that contract with the state can turn away LGBT couples looking to adopt a child, the Associated Press reported.

The preliminary injunction that Jonker issued blocked Democratic state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s effort to forbid religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT couples. Nessel made history in Michigan for being the first openly gay statewide officeholder.

It’s a blow to the LGBT community and their allies. Earlier this year, Nessel had a win when she reversed the state’s stance on LGBT adoptions through a legal settlement between LGBT couples and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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That was all pushed backward when Jonker issued the injunction, claiming that Nessel’s legal settlement was in conflict with Michigan state law, existing contracts with religious-based adoption agencies and “established practice,” the AP reported.

A spokeswoman for Nessel told the AP her office was reviewing the judge’s decision to determine what to do next.

Nessel’s attempt to change the way Michigan handles contracts with religious-based adoption agencies began in March, when she struck a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to resolve a 2017 lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. The eventual settlement reached said that a 2015 law, supported by Republicans, that allows adoption and foster agencies to not provide services for LGBT couples does not apply if they are under contract with the state.

It is this settlement that Jonker rejected.

“Today’s ruling requires the state to put the individual religious beliefs of foster care agencies ahead of the welfare of children,” Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, told the AP. “This will not facilitate foster and adoptive placements for children in need. Instead, it will allow agencies to turn away same-sex foster parents who are able to provide supportive and loving homes for these children.”