Catholic charity can remain open after court found Michigan violated First Amendment

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Monday agreed to pay Catholic Charities $250,000 in attorneys fees.

Updated: March 22, 2022 - 7:21am

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Catholic Charities West Michigan will remain open after state officials agreed under court order to pay the nonprofit's attorney's fees and acknowledged that taking actions against the charity for its beliefs would violate the First Amendment.

Catholic Charities prioritizes placing children up for adoption or in foster care with a married mother and father. The group filed a lawsuit with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) after Michigan officials gave the nonprofit the ultimatum to either close its adoption and foster care ministry or change its policy prioritizing a married mother and father to receive a child.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Monday agreed to pay Catholic Charities $250,000 in attorneys fees and costs associated with the lawsuit, the ADF announced.

The agency also conceded in court that it cannot take adverse actions against the nonprofit for not approving a same-sex or unmarried couple for foster care or adoption.

"More adoption and foster care providers mean more children have the chance to be adopted or cared for by a foster family," ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus said in a press release.

"Catholic Charities West Michigan meets a critical need as one of the region's largest social service providers, reuniting children with their birth parents and placing foster kids in loving homes," Galus said. "We are pleased Catholic Charities can continue its vital mission serving vulnerable families in Michigan without being punished by the government simply because it's operating according to its religious beliefs — the very reason the ministry exists in the first place."

The western Michigan nonprofit helps more than 30,000 people annually and has placed about 4,500 children in homes, the ADF said.

When the lawsuit reached a settlement earlier this month, Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would create a new task force "to support LGBTQ+ families who want to adopt or foster children."