Monday, March 25, 2019

For now, Michigan requires state-contracted child welfare agencies to accept all eligible families

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Too many kids are in “the system.”
On Friday, the state of Michigan announced that it will require all state-contracted child welfare agencies to comply with state nondiscrimination law and accept all qualified families, including gay couples. The announcement stems from a settlement on Friday in Dumont v. Gordon. In that case, two gay couples sued the state on the premise that state funds were being used for religious purposes. The ACLU of Michigan represented the plaintiffs.

Not surprisingly, St. Vincent Catholic Charities was an intervenor in the matter. In other words, Catholic Charities petitioned the Court to be a voluntary defendant.

In January, the plaintiffs and the state reached a resolution of the matter. This culminated in a motion to dismiss on Friday which was “so-ordered” by the Court.

I think that this matter is far from over. There is a state law in Michigan to the effect that such religious based discrimination in adoption and foster care is permissible. The Court's order is predicated on a settlement in contrast to a ruling that the law is unconstitutional (which it clearly seems to be).

Catholic Charities is responsible for about one-quarter of all the state's adoption and foster care work. We will have to see what they do. Either they will get out of the foster care and adoption business or they will continue to discriminate which will engender another court challenge when a gay couple is turned away. I seriously doubt that Catholic Charities is going to place a child with a same-sex couple.

A third option is for Catholic Charities to become a private service which does not operate with state funds. In 2017, St. Vincent Catholic Charities (Lansing, MI) had revenues of $9,956,986.

Sadly, eight states have laws in place that permit this kind of discrimination using taxpayer provided funds. These services are doing the work of the state. The real losers are the many children who are deprived of loving care.

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