A federal judge ruled that New York state can not force or shut down a Christian family services agency for declining to provide adoption services to unmarried persons or same-sex couples.
New Hope Family Services said it could only provide adoption services to married heterosexual couples because of religious beliefs after the state amended its Domestic Relations Law in 2010, according to court filings.
The new law gave unmarried adult couples and married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, the right to adopt.
As CBN News reported, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) issued an ultimatum to the adoption group telling the faith-based organization to revise its "discriminatory and impermissible" policy or stop providing families for children who need them.
In 2018, the Syracuse-based group filed a lawsuit against the OCFS claiming the agency violated their freedom of religion.
U.S. District Court Judge Mae A. D'Agostino in Albany cited free speech protections Tuesday granting New Hope a summary judgment and ruling the state agency couldn't compel New Hope to provide adoption services to unmarried or same-sex couples.
"Praise the Lord," the group wrote on Facebook. "Victory in our court case! Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support!"
"The court's decision is great news for children waiting to be adopted and for the parents partnering with New Hope Family Services to provide loving, stable homes," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel, Roger Brooks.
Since 1965, New Hope's mission is "to be Christ's hands extended to offer hope and help to people with pregnancy, parenting, adoption or post-abortion needs in the Syracuse area and throughout the State of New York."
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"Shutting down an adoption provider for its religious beliefs—needlessly and unconstitutionally reducing the number of agencies willing to help—benefits no one—certainly not children," Brooks added. "New Hope's faith-guided services don't coerce anyone and do nothing to interfere with other adoption providers who have different beliefs about family and the best interests of children."
"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," said New Hope's executive director, Kathy Jerman.
"We live in a diverse state, and we need more adoption providers, not fewer," she expressed. "We're grateful that the court's decision allows us to keep serving children and families."
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