Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced that taxpayer-funded adoption agencies with religious objections to placing children in homes of homosexual “married” couples will no longer be able to cite their faith as a legitimate reason to opt out of providing that service. The move has the effect of forcing religious adoption agencies to violate their consciences if they want state money.

In a statement released Friday, Nessel, a liberal Democrat and a lesbian, declared that “discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoption services is illegal, no matter the rationale.”

Nessel’s unilateral decision, which will likely bring to an end Christian adoption services in Michigan, serves as the settlement reached between the State of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the state in 2017 on behalf of a lesbian couple who wanted to adopt but were turned away from St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services, two of the state’s best known Christian adoption agencies.

In 2017, Bethany Christian Services, which has been operating in Michigan since 1944, helped 1,761 foster children and facilitated 493 foster care adoptions.

Legally speaking, Nessel’s decision voids a package of bills signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Snyder in 2015 that carved out religious exemptions for faith-based organizations, though the Michigan Catholic Conference — the policy voice for the Catholic Church in the state’s capitol — tweeted that it is “highly unlikely” that Nessel’s decision will be “the last chapter of the story,” implying further legal challenges are coming.

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