By: - October 23, 2019 10:52 am

Attorney General Dana Nessel at Michigan Pride | Susan J. Demas

Religious adoption agencies contracting with the state are still able to refuse to work with LGBTQ couples after a federal judge denied Attorney General Dana Nessel’s motion to pause a court order.

Nessel filed an emergency motion in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Oct. 11 following the order from U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids.

Jonker denied that motion on Tuesday, however, saying that Nessel “has offered nothing new and has failed to come to grips with the factual basis on the preliminary injunction record that supports the inference of religious targeting in this case.”

Jonker ordered in the case, Buck v. Gordon, that child welfare agency St. Vincent Catholic Charities can’t be blocked from state funding even though it refuses to work with LGBTQ couples who wish to become foster parents.

In March, Nessel and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan settled a 2017 lawsuit claiming discrimination against a same-sex couple who was denied adoption services through the agency. In this lawsuit, two gay couples were who were turned away by St. Vincent and Bethany Christian Services sued the state for discrimination. 

In Nessel’s statement announcing the motion to stay, she stated that Jonker accused her of being “anti-Catholic” in the court’s preliminary injunction. 

Jonker wrote in the order that Nessel suggests the Court “harbors personal animosity” toward her or her beliefs, but goes on to deny these allegations. 

“Nothing in the Court’s analysis suggests personal animosity toward the Attorney General or her views,” Jonker wrote. 

A spokesperson in Nessel’s office said they are reviewing Jonker’s order with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to determine next steps.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.