DETROIT — Kristy and Dana Dumont are prospective foster parents who were turned away from two taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies in 2016 and 2017 because those agencies had a religious objection to accepting same-sex couples. The Dumonts sued the state of Michigan for allowing agencies, like the one that turned them away, to use religious criteria to turn away same-sex couples who could provide families for children. In March of this year, the state of Michigan settled the lawsuit and announced that it will require all agencies with state contracts to comply with non-discrimination requirements and accept all qualified families.
Now, one of the agencies that turned away the Dumonts, St. Vincent Catholic Charities, has sued the state, claiming that the Constitution entitles it to both get a taxpayer-funded contract and be exempt from the state’s requirement to accept all qualified families. Because this lawsuit is a direct attack on the settlement in the Dumonts’ case, the couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan, has asked to join the lawsuit.
“With 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan, we can’t afford to have good families cast aside based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child,” said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project. “In settling the lawsuit, the state noted that discrimination in the public foster care system is not only illegal but undermines the state’s goal of finding a home for every child. When agencies choose to accept tax dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of the children first.”
“After the settlement of our lawsuit, we were so thrilled that families like ours seeking to adopt a child from foster care would be judged based on one thing only — our ability to care for a child — and children would not needlessly lose out on families to love and support them,” said Kristy Dumont. “It is distressing that a taxpayer-funded agency is challenging the settlement, claiming that its interests trump the well-being of the children in need of families. We are seeking to participate in this lawsuit to ensure that it doesn’t overturn the important progress made in ending discrimination against families and putting the needs of children first.”
The case, Buck v. Gordon, was filed on April 15 in the Western District of Michigan.
The motion to intervene and related documents can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/buck-v-gordon