Three years ago, the Dumonts- a lesbian couple from Michigan- lost out on the chance to adopt due to a religious adoption agency’s discriminatory practices.
This week, the Michigan Appeals Court gave them the right to fight back.
Read on for the full story.
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Lesbian Couple Wins the Right Religious Agency’s “No Same-sex Parents” Adoption Rules
Back in 2017, lesbian couple Kristy and Diana Dumont, were in the position of adopting a child.
At the time, they had just moved in their new house and were completely ready to establish their family.
While they were researching adoption agencies, they came accross Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services and decided to give them a try.
The unexpected came when they were refused, because the agencies refused to work with same-sex couples.
Unfortunately, at that time, they had little to no recourse under Michigan law, as agencies had the right to refuse per a controversial bill stating:
“Private child placing agencies, including faith-based child placing agencies, have the right to free exercise of religion under both the state and federal constitutions. Under well-settled principles of constitutional law, this right includes the freedom to abstain from conduct that conflicts with an agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In 2018, when Michigan courts agreed to enforce a newer policy prohibiting the agency from discriminating against same-sex couples, the Dumonts dropped their case.
Below is a statement from Michigan Attorney General Nessel:
Dumonts Joining Class Action Lawsuit
The Dumonts weren’t the only same-sex couple that the agency rejected. Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton were in the exact same position.
As a result, the ALCU sued Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the two couples.
However, since the Dumonts dropped their case in 2018, they actually had to appeal for the right to have a voice in the class action lawsuit.
As of last week, the Appeals court granted them that right.
According to the lawsuit, right now everything is a battle of Amendments.
Both the couple and agency believe that their constitutional rights are not being respected.
In 2019, the MDHHS said that as long as it was not “prohibited by law or court order it would “consider sexual-orientation discrimination by a faith-based child placement agency as violating the anti-discrimination clause under its existing contracts.”
The agency decided to commence this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
According to them, the State changing this policy would interfere with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
St. Vincent Looking For A Way Out
St. Vincent wants to see the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case resolved, thinking it may create a precedent and allow them to further discriminate same-sex couples.
The district court granted this motion, saying that.
Fulton is likely to illuminate and shape the legal standards controlling this case and may be outcomedeterminative.
Now, the couple didn’t win the final battle, but they did win the right to fight, and that’s a big first step.
According to the lawsuit, no other couples were allowed to intervene in the process.
However, the denial of permissive intervention has been reversed and we are waiting to see what happens next.
Because “St. Vincent’s remaining arguments are unconvincing” there is a chance that the court will rule in favor of the couples, but court cases can always go either way.
As this is an ongoing story, we will update you as information becomes available.