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For Now, NYS Can’t Penalize Anti-Gay Adoption Agency

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Dec 01, 2020

This is an update of a prior article.  It is important to note, the importance of everyone’s vote and how it affects not only who sits in the White House and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, but the appointment of Federal Court Justices that affect citizens everyday lives, rights and privileges. 

We previously reported about an article where the New York State was challenging New Hope Family Services, a Christian adoption agency, licensed by New York State, decision to refuse to provide services to married same sex couples.  US District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, issued an Injunction on Oct. 5, 2020, after be directed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider her prior denial of a Preliminary Injunction, and dismissal of New Hope’s lawsuit.  The Second Circuit panel reversed her decision.

In 2010, the legislature complying with the states highest court practice of recognizing second parent adoption for same sex couples since the 1990s, amended the law to allow authorized agencies to place children for adoption with an adult unmarried person, an adult married couple together or any two unmarried adult intimate partners together. 

The New York State Office of Child Family Services in turn adopted a non-discriminatory regulation and informed all authorized agencies that they could not discriminate against same sex couples or unmarried couples. 

After New York Marriage Equality Law went into effect in 2011, of course same sex married couples were automatically covered by the amended statute and authorized agencies were so advised.

In 2015, the US Supreme found that same sex couples had a constitutional right to marry and their marriages are entitled to the same treatment under state laws as all marriages.  Notwithstanding the regulation and the directive given them, New Hope retained its long standing policy of limiting its service to married heterosexual couples or unmarried adults not living in intimate relationships with another adult rather than placing a child with a lesbian or gay couple, married or not.

New Hope stands on an allegation of discrimination, based upon their religious beliefs.  New Hope filed this law suit, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a leading anti-LGBTQ religious litigation group, arguing that OCF’s regulations went beyond the statute.  The State moved to dismiss their law suit, which was granted by Judge D’Agostino, ruling that the regulation was in the scope of the statute and did not violate New Hope’s constitutional rights.  This Decision was appealed to the Second Circuit, which reversed Judge D’Agostino’s dismissal in July and sent the case back to her.  The three (3) Judge Circuit panel, concluded that New Hope’s allegations were sufficient to put into play its constitutional claims as well as its claim about limited scope of the adoption statute as permissive, rather than mandatory and noted that any Appeal of Judge D’Agostino’s new Decision would return to it.  Given those directives, Judge D’Agostino’s new Injunction was inevitable, though it is clear from her opinion, that she did not change her mind about her original analysis.  However, Judge D’Agostino is bound by the Second Circuit Court. 

That is why it is very interesting to note, the appointment of, not only Supreme Court Justices, but Federal Court Justices to the bench, can drastically change the decisions and climate of our country.  What is further interesting to note, is that the New Hope case is very similar to a case that was argued in the Supreme Court on November 4, 2020, the day after the election, where Catholic Social Services sued the City of Philadelphia over the city’s refusal to renew their contract to participate in the city’s Forster Care System.  Similarly to New Hope, they have refused to provide its services to same sex couples seeking to foster parents.  This is just another demonstration of how important our votes are in shaping not only who sits in the White House, but who regulates our lives through laws and statutes and the court system.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Arthur S. Leonard, GayCityNews.com