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Can CNY Christian Adoption Agency Exclude Gays, Unmarried Couples? NY Law Faces High-Profile Court Test

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Dec 09, 2019

To piggy back off of last week's post, NY now has its own hot profile case on the LGBTQ adoption issue.

A Syracuse Christian adoption agency says it doesn't take gay or unmarried couples as adoptive parents because it's not "in the best interests of children." New York has said New Hope Family Services will face closure if it doesn't comply with the state's anti-discrimination law.

New York in 2013 issued new regulations to adoption agencies, prohibiting them from discriminating against applicants who sought their services. The anti-discrimination rules covered everything from race to religion, sexual orientation to marital status. In the fall of 2018, after New York’s anti-discrimination regulations had been on the books for a few years, New York’s Office of Child and Family Services came to Syracuse for a routine inspection of New Hope. Thereafter OCFS told New Hope it would have to comply with state regulations. It would have to begin placing children with same-sex and unmarried couples. New Hope refused on religious grounds and OCFS made it clear in subsequent emails and letters it was delivering an ultimatum: Change the policy of not accepting certain couples, or shut down. New Hope filed suit and its case is now on appeal. New York says New Hope isn’t forced to do anything. The state insists that New Hope can always stop participating in public adoptions. But if it wants to continue this work, it simply must cooperate and follow the state’s rules.  Here, the law is concerned not only with New Hope’s religious freedom and discrimination against prospective adoptive parents -- but adoption is a heavily regulated process, in which a child’s rights and future is also at stake.

The New York attorney general, defending the state, also argues the case is different because adoption is conduct, not speech.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Julie McMahon of Syracuse.com