The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been ordered to pay St. Vincent Catholic Charities $550,000 in attorney's fees in a settlement that cited a U.S. Supreme Court's decision in a Philadelphia case. The case in Philadelphia was about how the state violated the First Amendment when it forced a Catholic foster care agency to place children in same-sex homes. The case was decided unanimously.
Now, St. Vincent Catholic Charities on Tuesday reached a settlement with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which in 2019 ordered the faith-based organization to match children with same-sex couples for them to receive state funding. Refusal to do so would mean that state funding would discontinue and may even possibly close its doors. St. Vincent Catholic Charities is one of the oldest adoption and foster care agencies in Michigan, the Catholic News Agency reported.
"The teaching of the Catholic Church and, hence, the adoption policy of Saint Vincent is rooted in both faith and reason: That children, on the whole, do best in life when they grow up with a mom and dad who are married to each other," Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing Rich Budd argued.
"To have punished or proscribed that common-sense approach by law would have cruelly prevented Saint Vincent from being of service to couples who yearn for children and to vulnerable children who yearn for parents - hence we celebrate today's agreement," Budd said.
St. Vincent Catholic Charities as well as several people who benefited from the faith-based organization's work filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan. Legal group Becket represented the Catholic adoption agency and complainants Shamber Flore, a former foster child who was placed by St. Vincent with a family, and Melissa and Chad Buck, who through the Catholic adoption agency was able to adopt five children with special needs.
The Christian Headlines reported that as per Becket, no LGBT couple has ever been "unable to foster or adopt because of St. Vincent's religious beliefs." In fact, the Catholic adoption agency even "refers any couples it cannot serve to other agencies who can."
Becket added that there are more than 13,000 foster children in the state of Michigan alone and up to 600 kids "age out" of the foster system annually, forcing them to be " on their own, never having found a family to provide stability, love and support or a permanent place to call home."
Becket argued that "No one addresses this issue more effectively than faith-based agencies." In fact, the legal group reported that St. Vincent Catholic Charities had found more foster families than almost 90% of other adoption agencies in the service district. The faith-based organization also showed exemplary performance in successfully placing children with special needs, larger sibling groups, or older children, in foster families.