Michigan Agrees to Pay St. Vincent Catholic Charities $550,000 to Settle Religious-Freedom Lawsuit

Michigan passed a law that exempted faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that receive taxpayers’ money from placing children with homosexuals. St. Vincent Catholic Charities believes marriage is the union between one man and one woman and opposes placing children in such households.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit to remove the exemption, and the state settled by agreeing to remove it. St. Vincent sued, and a federal court in 2019 ruled that faith-based adoption and foster care agencies receiving taxpayers’ money in Michigan can refuse to place children in homosexual households while the case was still pending. The judge contended that the policy discriminated against St. Vincent Catholic Charities.

The Becket law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of St. Vincent and couple Melissa and Chad Buck.

The Catholic News Agency reported that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) this week announced a settlement with St. Vincent.

The settlement comes following a unanimous Supreme Court decision that limits MDHHS’s ability to enforce its non-discrimination policy under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court decision is binding on Michigan.

MDHHS’s commitment to ensuring LGBTQ+ families feel welcome and valued as foster and adoptive parents remains a top priority. The department intends to expand its support for LGBTQ+ families who want to become foster or adoptive parents as part of the department’s ongoing work to find loving homes for every child in foster care.

The MDHHS will pay the plaintiffs $550,000 in lawyers’ fees and costs.

The Supreme Court case cited in the settlement decision involved Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia. The city ended a contract with the agency because it opposed placing children with homosexuals. The high court unanimously ruled in 2021 that the city violated the agency’s First Amendment rights by ending the contract for those reasons. The city agreed to pay the agency $2 million in legal fees.

“We are overjoyed that the State of Michigan has now recognized the important role religious adoption and foster care agencies like Saint Vincent Catholic Charities play in helping children find loving homes,” Melissa Buck said.

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