A federal district court Wednesday ruled that New York’s state government cannot shut down a faith-based adoption provider.
One day earlier, New Hope Family Services of Syracuse, New York, prevailed in a suit against the state’s Office of Children and Family Services and acting commissioner Sheila J. Poole, over the state’s demand the Christian adoption agency place children with same-sex couples.
The faith-based agency only places children with married, heterosexual couples.
Since 2018, New Hope has been battling OCFS in court over the issue, asserting that it has a right to adhere to its faith in operating a service that’s placed more than 1,000 children in adoptive homes since 1965.
The agency receives no government funding, according to public-interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, and does not “coerce anyone” regarding its services. Same-sex couples are offered referrals to other agencies can accommodate such requests, attorneys from ADL said in a release.
District Judge Mae Avila D’Agostino said forcing New Hope to close because it won’t place children with same-sex couples “actually runs contrary to the state’s interest in maximizing the number of families available for adoption,” and violates the adoption agency’s First Amendment freedoms.
Judge D’Agostino, an Obama appointee, said “the balance of the hardships is in New Hope’s favor; it faces harm to its rights under the First Amendment and is subject to closure if the Court does not issue a permanent injunction.”
Attorney Roger Brooks, a senior ADF counsel, said in a statement, “The decision from the court simply allows New Hope to continue serving the community so that more kids find permanent homes, more adoptive parents welcome a new child, and more birth parents enjoy the exceptional support that New Hope has offered for decades. The state’s attempt to shutter New Hope did nothing other than violate core rights protected by the First Amendment — the freedom to speak what you believe and the freedom to practice the teachings of your faith.”
Kathy Jerman, New Hope’s executive director, said, “Every child deserves a home with a loving mother and father who are committed to each other,” and asserted theirs is “an ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry that walks with adoptive families and birth parents alike to place children with adoptive families.”
A spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services said they were “working on” a response to a reporter’s inquiry about the ruling.