The well-known Christian adoption agency Bethany Christian Services (BCS), based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently announced it will begin placing children with LGBT families after facing legal challenges for refusing in the past to work with same-sex couples.
In a statement released to WGVU, BCS insisted its beliefs on the issue have not changed: “We are focused on demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by serving children in need, and we intend to continue doing so in Michigan.”
The decision from BCS — which partners with the state government — comes several weeks after Michigan reached a settlement with two gay couples who sued in 2017 because they were rejected for adoptions.
“We filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Michigan’s practice of permitting state contracted taxpayer funded foster and adoption agencies to refuse to work with same-sex couples citing the agencies religious beliefs,” said Jay Kaplan, an attorney for the ACLU of Michigan.
Last week, an unnamed employee who spoke to WGVU on condition of anonymity told the PBS affiliate that, prior to BCS’ decision, “a group of other employees” threatened to leave the faith-based organization unless the policy changed to allow LGBT families to house children, either through adoption or foster care.
BCS is responsible for roughly 8 percent of Michigan’s foster care and adoption agencies, according to The Detroit News.
In a statement posted over the weekend, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel praised BCS for its policy shift:
This move is not unprecedented within BCS. Last July, BCS’ affiliate in Philadelphia changed its policy after the city stopped placing foster care children with the Christian organization because it did not work with same-sex couples.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney argued at the time his city couldn’t “use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation or because of their same-sex marriage status.”
In a statement, BCS reasoned it is more important to remain in the foster-care space than to sacrifice the opportunity altogether. “To that end,” the statement read, “while we will remain compliant with the law, we also remain committed to our Christian beliefs and core values.”
The organization has on paper remained opposed to same-sex marriage but has nevertheless started working with same-sex couples.