A federal lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of an Oregon mom who says the state prevented her from adopting a child because of her Christian faith.
Jessica Bates is already the mother of five children, ages 10 to 17, and was widowed when she lost her husband in a car accident six years ago. She started the adoption process over a year ago, feeling a biblical call to care for orphans.
But during the adoption process she told officials from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) that her Christian faith forbade her from accepting the state’s orthodoxy about gender ideology.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which filed the suit, says the state told Bates that she must “respect, accept, and support … the sexual orientation, gender identity, [and] gender expression” of any child she adopts.
“Under this rule, caregivers must agree to use a child’s preferred pronouns, take a child to affirming events like Pride parades, or sign the child up for dangerous pharmaceutical interventions like puberty blockers and hormone shots—no matter a child’s age, no matter whether a child actually desires these things, and no matter how deeply these requirements violate the caregiver’s religious convictions,” said the lawsuit.
However, the ODHS website lists just seven criteria for adoption:
- You can be single, married, or domestic partners
- You can live in a house or apartment, but must have room to house a child
- You can work inside or outside the home
- You must be at least 21 years of age or older
- You must have sufficient income to support your family
- You must be able to physically care for a child
- You must pass a child abuse and criminal background check.
It also adds: “Applicants are considered regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.”
But because of her traditional Christian beliefs, ODHS added an additional requirement aimed specifically at her faith that excludes her, ADF says. The policy reflects a double standard that penalizes Christians and rewards “progressive” politics in the adoption process.
“Oregon’s policy amounts to an ideological litmus test: people who hold secular or ‘progressive’ views on sexual orientation and gender identity are eligible to participate in child welfare programs, while people of faith with religiously informed views are disqualified because they don’t agree with the state’s orthodoxy,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, in a statement. “The government can’t exclude certain communities of faith from foster care and adoption services because the state doesn’t like their particular religious beliefs.”
The lawsuit also says that ODHS violated the Constitution in denying Bates equal protection under the law because of her religion and also violates Bates’ right to exercise her religion and her right to freely associate under the First Amendment.
The lawsuit asked the court to take both temporary and permanent action in declaring the policies of ODHS as violations of the Constitution, issue an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing such policies, and ask for reasonable legal fees and expenses.
The suit was filed in federal District Court in Oregon, named five defendants, each in their official capacities at ODHS, including Fariborz Pakseresht, the director of the ODHS.