New Hope Family Services in New York is a faith-based adoption provider that places babies with married couples: one man and one woman. But a government agency says they’re discriminating against homosexuals. New Hope believes placing children with married couples is in the best interests of the child and in accordance with its Christian faith and mission.
The New York Division of Human Rights has threatened New Hope, even though two federal courts found the state’s efforts to force New Hope to comply with the agency’s idea of non-discrimination likely violated the provider’s First Amendment rights. The New York legislature never passed a law that forces faith-based adoption providers to change their adoption policies.
In the complaint (PDF), New Hope says it doesn’t reject unmarried or homosexual couples; rather, it “politely and respectfully informs them that because of its beliefs as a Christian ministry, New Hope cannot be the agency to serve them” and provides referrals.
New Hope cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (2021). The city ended a contract with Catholic Social Services because it refused to place children with homosexual couples. The court held that the city’s non-discrimination requirement imposed a burden on CSS’s free exercise of religion and doesn’t qualify as a generally applicable provision.
“Government fails to act neutrally when it proceeds in a manner intolerant of religious beliefs or restricts practices because of their religious nature,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. “CSS seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”
New Hope accuses the New York Division of Human Rights of launching a “discriminatory and harassing investigation based on a bad-faith complaint” and asks the court for a preliminary and permanent injunction and to find that the agency’s actions violate the provider’s First Amendment rights.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represents New Hope. From the site:
In order to scrupulously ensure its autonomy to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs, New Hope accepts no government funding. Its operations are entirely funded by private contributions and by fees paid by couples with which New Hope works to perform home studies and complete adoptions.
“What is happening to New Hope Family Services is part of a disturbing trend from Alaska and Washington to Colorado and New York: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them,” ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks said. “We have filed this lawsuit to put a stop to state officials’ illegal and indefensible harassment of New Hope, which only wishes to continue serving New York families as it has for more than 50 years.”
Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom
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