The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) must pay a Christian adoption agency $250,000 for attorney and legal fees after the state attempted to close the organization down for alleged discrimination against LGBTQ couples, according to a Tuesday press release.
OFCS in December 2018 accused New Hope Family Services of using its mission of faith to discriminate against gay couples looking to adopt, calling the organization’s policy regarding child placement “discriminatory and impermissible” leading to a legal battle that ended with the courts siding with the adoption agency, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal firm committed to protecting religious freedom. New Hope and state officials reached an agreement that the state would pay the agency $250,000 in a settlement. (RELATED: Homeless Shelter Sues State Officials Preventing It From Hiring Christian Employees)
“The settlement of the lawsuit, in which Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent New Hope, ensures that New York’s Office of Children and Family Services can no longer target the Syracuse-based adoption agency for its religious policies and that it can continue serving the community by placing children in loving, permanent homes,” the press release read.
UPDATE: NY state officials have agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a federal lawsuit with New Hope Family Services, a faith-based adoption agency. Now, the agency can continue serving the community by placing children in loving, permanent homes. pic.twitter.com/FicQPlONol
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) March 7, 2023
OFCS told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it was “deeply disappointed” with the court’s decision.
“While we must comply with the court’s ruling based on the particular set of circumstances in this case, OCFS maintains that any form of discrimination on any basis cannot and should not be tolerated,” OFCS said.
OFCS had initially given New Hope a positive review during an October 2018 inspection, but only a few months later changed its tune when reviewing the agency’s policies pertaining to how its religious mission encourages marriage between a man and a woman and determines whether or not a family is approved for adoption, according to the lawsuit. The state threatened to force New Hope to close its doors if the organization did not change its policies, prompting New Hope to file a lawsuit in December 2018.
A federal district court ruled in September 2022 prohibiting the state from shutting down the agency and argued that the attempt itself would constitute discrimination based on religious belief, according to the ruling. The decision affirmed an earlier temporary stay issued by the court in 2020 while the case was under review.
“Christian adoption providers who help children find loving homes with married moms and dads should be protected, not shut down for their faith,” Mark Lippelmann, senior counsel with ADF, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Because of New Hope’s faith-based belief that the best home for each child includes a father and mother committed to each other in marriage, New Hope devotes its resources to placing children with such families, while referring others to nearby providers. Silencing New Hope’s voice and attempting to shut them down didn’t help a single child find a loving home, and we are thankful that New York has agreed not to target the agency again for its religious policies.”
This article has been updated with comment from the Office of Children and Family Services.
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