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Federal Court Rules Christain Adoption Agency Can’t Be Compelled To Serve Same-Sex Or Unmarried Couples

Holland McKinnie
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A federal court in New York issued a ruling on Wednesday declaring that a Christain family services agency will not be compelled to provide adoption services to same-sex or unmarried couples.

The plaintiff in the case is New Hope Family Services, a non-profit adoption agency, foster placement agency, and pregnancy resource center that has been in operation for six decades in Syracuse. 

New Hope filed the lawsuit in 2018 against the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The state told New Hope it would have to either end its “discriminatory and impermissible” adoption practices or shut down that part of its agency.

U.S. District Court Judge Mae A. D’Agostino of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York found in her ruling that the state officials had violated the civil rights of New Hope protected by the First Amendment. Judge D’Agostino was nominated to the federal bench by Barack Obama in 2010.

New Hope Family Services executive director Kathy Jerman praised the ruling, saying that every child deserves a “loving mother and father who are committed to each other.” She said that New York is a diverse state that needs “more adoption providers, not fewer.”

The public interest law group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represented New Hope in the case. ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks said that if New York had been allowed to unconstitutionally close down New Hope, it would “needlessly reduce” the number of agencies helping children find safe and loving homes, which would “benefit no one – especially children.”

Brooks also said that the state’s attempt to close down New Hope’s adoption agency worked only to “violate core rights protected by the First Amendment.” He said those include the freedom to practice the teachings of one’s faith and the freedom to speak as one believes. 

The Office of Children and Family Services said in a statement that the government is “deeply disappointed” by the ruling and maintains that discrimination “should not be tolerated.” The state said that it is reviewing its options for appealing the decision to a higher court.

The case has already been appealed previously by New Hope when the district court dismissed the lawsuit in 2019. The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal in October 2020 and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings according to the law as found to apply by the court of appeals.