President Donald Trump openly endorsed discrimination by foster and adoption agencies, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning.
After welcoming Chad and Melissa Buck, a couple from Michigan who he applauded for having adopted five children, he said, “Unfortunately, the Michigan adoption charity that brought the Buck family together is now defending itself in court for living by the values of its Catholic faith.”
“We will always protect our country’s long and proud tradition of faith-based adoption,” he added. “My administration is working to insure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”
The case Trump referred to is a lawsuit the ACLU brought on behalf of two same-sex couples challenging Michigan’s law granting adoption agencies a license to discriminate, even if they receive state funding.
One of the couples behind the suit, Kristy and Dana Dumont, sought adoption services from St. Vincent Catholic Charities in July 2016 and again in March 2017. The agency told them it did not work with same-sex couples.
During a February 2015 Michigan House hearing on legislation that would protect adoption agencies from being punished for discriminating, St. Vincent’s director of clinical services defended the bill, testifying that the agency would be affected otherwise, as it employed such discriminatory practices. “If they let us know that they’re unmarried, or they’re gay or lesbian, we immediately recommend, make a referral to another agency,” they said.
But the ACLU didn’t sue St. Vincent or any other particular agency that was taking advantage of the law. It sued state officials directly, seeking to overturn the law altogether. The agency, along with the Bucks, chose to intervene in the case to help defend the discriminatory law for which it had previously advocated. If the same-sex couples’ case succeeded, the agency claimed, it would be forced to shut down.
“Melissa and Chad Buck will lose critical support for the special needs children they adopted through St. Vincent,” they argued.
Trump’s assurances at Thursday’s prayer breakfast come weeks after his administration granted a waiver to a South Carolina foster care agency, granting them license to ignore an Obama administration rule prohibiting discrimination. Miracle Hill, an evangelical protestant agency, not only refuses to serve same-sex families but had also refused to place children with a Jewish family.
Anti-LGBTQ groups have prioritized passing more of these laws allowing child placement agencies to discriminate across the country while still receiving public funding in recent years. An effort to chip away at marriage equality, these campaigns demonize same-sex parents, provide special privileges to Christian agencies, and normalize subsidizing discrimination with taxpayer money.