The ACLU has launched a lawsuit against the state of Michigan on behalf of a lesbian couple who were denied the right to adopt.
Kirsty and Dana Dumont have been together for 11 years and decided that they wanted to take the jump into extending their family.
The couple were spurred on after receiving floods of emails from Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services calling for adoptive and foster families.
The pair moved into a three bedroom home with a large garden in a good school district and started the application process to become parents to a child.
“When you click on emails and you can see pictures of the kids and stories of the kids, it starts tugging on your heartstrings,” Kristy said.
However, they were shocked when they were denied by two state-contracted agencies who claimed that they did not work with same-sex couples.
“It was kind of a slap in the face,” Dana explained. “They didn’t even know us. How could you say no to people who you don’t even know?”
“The most important piece of this is getting some information out there so kids can find permanent, loving homes,” she added.
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The couple is now being represented by ACLU Michigan in the lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services and the Children’s Agency.
The suit accuses the state of discriminatory practices which violate the constitution by contracting agencies which hold religious objections.
It argues that the practice of hiring these firms is harmful to the 13,000 children currently in the state’s care as the children could have prospective families.
“We are suing the state for allowing this practice,” ACLU attorney Jay Kaplan said. “It does nothing for providing loving homes for children in need of them.”
However, a 2015 bill legalises the practice of faith-based agencies denying services.
The law states that “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.”
Kirsty and Dana hope that by bringing the lawsuit they can ensure other same-sex couples looking to start a family can have that opportunity.
“We are just one couple in this situation,” Kirsty said. “There are lots of couples out there. If it’s happening to us, it’s happening to others as well.”