SALT LAKE CITY — On Thursday in a Michigan courtroom, a judge heard arguments over whether to dismiss a lawsuit that could have ramifications for religious organizations around the country, as well as for LGBT couples looking to foster and adopt children.
The case, Dumont v. Lyon, centers around the question of whether faith-based adoption agencies that receive government money can turn away same-sex couples.
As one of the first cases of its kind, experts say it’s likely to set a legal precedent with implications in courts and state legislatures across the country. The Deseret News covered the case in-depth earlier this week.
The ACLU sued the state of Michigan in September of last year, arguing that by contracting with agencies which refuse to serve same-sex couples, the state is violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The case began when Kristy and Dana Dumont, a same-sex married couple living in Michigan, contacted St. Vincent Catholic Charities to inquire about foster care and adoption services. They said the agency told them they didn’t work with same-sex couples. The same news came from Bethany Christian Services, another faith-based adoption agency.
“It felt like the wind got knocked out of me,” Kristy, 40, remembers. “I was speechless.”
After being turned away from the two agencies, the Dumonts contacted the ACLU, which was considering filing a lawsuit challenging the state’s practice of contracting with faith-based adoption agencies that don’t work with same-sex couples.
St. Vincent Catholic Charities asked to intervene in the case and is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit law firm.
Shamber Flore, a former foster child who was adopted through St. Vincent, and Melissa Buck, who adopted five foster children with special needs through the agency, also asked to intervene alongside St. Vincent and are represented by Becket. They submitted statements to the court that were included in Thursday’s hearing.
St. Vincent argues that serving same-sex couples would compromise its religious convictions. Becket claims there are legal exemptions which allow for state money to be used while respecting religious belief and seeking the best interest of children.
A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the hearing, citing the ongoing litigation. But according to the court brief, “if faith-based agencies are not allowed to operate according to their religious principles, they will shut down, which can have the effect of reducing the number …read more
Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News