A federal district judge in Michigan has blocked a new state policy that was implemented earlier this year by State Attorney General Dana Nessel, prohibiting adoption and foster care agencies that have state contracts from refusing to review and recommend placement of children in homes with practicing homosexuals, so-called transgender persons, or with unmarried couples, citing that the state attorney exhibited a “hostility” toward religion by her actions.
Nessel, who is Michigan’s first openly homosexual statewide officeholder, entered into an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan over a case filed by two lesbians who sued the state because they claimed to have been turned away from adoption agencies.
According to the Associated Press, the settlement “said a 2015 Republican-backed law that lets child-placement agencies not provide any services that conflict with their sincerely held religious beliefs does not apply if they are under contract with the state.”
Following this, the Lansing-based St. Vincent Catholic Charities brought suit against several government officials, including Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, Nessel and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, citing religious objection to the government mandate brought by the settlement.
The lawsuit, Buck v. Gordon, sought nominal damages and legal costs, and asked the court to reverse the rule, which required child-placement services to those living in homosexuality, or to others considered to be living sexually deviant lifestyles, by faith-based adoption and foster agencies.
In the preliminary injunction opinion issued on Thursday, District Judge Robert Jonker wrote that the state attorney had “a targeted attack on a sincerely held religious belief” against St. Vincent, referring back to comments the state attorney made where she referred to proponents of the 2015 law as “hate-mongers.”
“The State pays St. Vincent to place children with foster or adoptive parents certified as suitable by the State. St. Vincent has done that faithfully, regardless of whether the certified parents were opposite sex, same-sex, or unmarried couples. St. Vincent would like to continue doing so under existing and renewed contracts with the State,” Judge Jonker wrote in his opinion.
“What St. Vincent has not done and will not do is give up its traditional Catholic belief that marriage as instituted by God is for one man and one woman. Based on that belief, St. Vincent has exercised its discretion to ensure that it is not in the position of having to review and recommend to the State whether to certify a same-sex or unmarried couple, and to refer those cases to agencies that do not have a religious confession preventing an honest evaluation and recommendation,” Jonker concluded.
The case will now be further litigated.