New Hope Family Services — a 60-year-old nonprofit adoption and temporary-foster-placement agency and pregnancy resource center in Syracuse — filed a federal lawsuit against the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in 2018 after officials told the faith-based agency to revise its “discriminatory and impermissible” policy or shut down the adoption program.
U.S. District Court Judge Mae A. D’Agostino in Albany wrote that New Hope succeeded on the merits of its First Amendment claim against the state.
New Hope Family Services Executive Director Kathy Jerman said every child deserves a home with a “loving mother and father who are committed to each other.”
“It’s regrettable that New York ever threatened to shut down our adoption services, through which we have placed more than 1,000 children with adoptive families since we began as an adoption agency in 1965,” Jerman said. “We live in a diverse state, and we need more adoption providers, not fewer.”
The faith-based center’s lawyer applauded the court’s decision, adding that closing down an adoption provider for its religious beliefs “needlessly and unconstitutionally” reduces the number of agencies willing to help and benefits no one — especially children.
“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,” Roger Brooks, senior counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, said.
The Associated Press reports the Office of Children and Family Services said in a prepared statement it was “deeply disappointed with the decision and maintains that discrimination on any basis should not be tolerated. We’re reviewing our options for next steps.”
The Albany district court had dismissed the Christian agency’s lawsuit in 2019, but the court issued a temporary order in October 2020 after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in its favor and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings.