Catholic Charities
That “action” seems to be limited by sexual orientation and gender identity

According to the National Catholic Register, in a piece written by Gerald J. Russello:

COMMENTARY: The issue in Dumont v. Lyon, like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, is how to protect religious liberty — set out in the Constitution — when people might be forced to act contrary to those beliefs.

Neither the title of the polemic nor the commentary are accurate. A Catholic adoption agency has not been “targeted”
and Dumont v. Lion has no similarity to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. If anyone has been target it is the gay couples who are turned away. Moreover, no one is compelled to act contrary to religious beliefs in that Catholic Charities is not forced to be an agent of the State of Michigan.

In 2015, the Michigan legislature passed a law permitting state funded adoption agencies to turn away gay couples wishing to be adoptive and foster parents. In September, 2017, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of five individuals in federal court. According to the ACLU:

There are currently 13,000 children in the state welfare system. Our lawsuit states that the State of Michigan is hurting its most vulnerable children and violating the Constitution by allowing taxpayer-funded child placement agencies to deny these children qualified foster and adoptive families based on religious eligibility criteria that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child.

The state has filed a motion to dismiss based primarily on standing. St. Vincent Catholic Charities along with three individuals filed a motion to intervene which means that they would be co-defendants with the state. As proposed intervenors, they have also filed a motion to dismiss.

A hearing on the motion to intervene is scheduled for March 7. A hearing on the motions to dismiss is scheduled for March 28. Catholic charities is represented by a diocesan lawyer and the Becket Fund. The ACLU is up against the apparatus of the Catholic Church which seems to have unlimited resources.

So, in essence, there are two issues: What is best for kids in the system and; discrimination by tax-funded organizations delegated by the state to perform this function on behalf of, and in lieu of, the state. These are not frivolous issues. The National Catholic Register uses “ACLU” as a weapon:

The Michigan-based Catholic charity has been one of the most successful adoption agencies in finding families for children who need homes and is arguing just the opposite of the ACLU-represented plaintiffs:

They cannot make that claim honestly. By turning away gay couples they reduced the number of available families and, in some cases, gay couples might have been better adoptive and foster parents. They have no way of knowing.

NCR goes on to state:

To allow the state to interfere with an adoption agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs is itself a constitutional violation. Prospective adoptive families who qualify but whose criteria do not fit the guidelines of the religiously affiliated adoption agency they have applied to (such as unmarried or same-sex couples, in the case of Catholic adoption agencies) are not rejected from the system. No private adoptive agency could do that. Instead, as St. Vincent argues, the plaintiffs “are free to [adopt] with the many other agencies in Michigan.”

The “they can go elsewhere” argument is infuriating. As for a constitutional violation, that is just sophistry. It is long held precedent (since 1879) that the government can regulate conduct. The government cannot regulate belief and these people are free to worship sub-woofers for all I care. The Church is placing religious dogma over the best interests of children.

I have to wonder about how Catholic Charities handles LGBT children. Clearly they have a bias. They believe that gay kids are objectively disordered. They believe that trans kids have subscribed to an ideology. None of that makes a whit of sense. I also must wonder how diverse their parents are other than in terms of their sexuality. Then I must wonder about how they are providing the state good service.

With respect to standing the Church makes a convoluted argument in their brief (emphasis per original):

… the relief Plaintiffs seek would result
in St. Vincent closing its programs to everyone, and Plaintiffs would still be unable
to work with St. Vincent.

Ah but then all of the children in the system would be available to all of the potential adoptive parents. The work done by Catholic Charities would simply be done by other agencies. Or do they presume to be indispensable? Perhaps their closure would be best for everyone; children and adults.

The four Catholic Charities entities in Michigan reported combined annual revenues of $32,677,255 for 2016 (they are not all on the same fiscal year). Nationally, Catholic Charities takes in more than $2 billion.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.