Jessica Bates, a mother of five from Oregon, has filed a lawsuit against the state after her application to adopt a child was allegedly rejected due to her Christian beliefs on sexuality.
Bates applied to adopt a child from the state’s foster care system last year. However, she claims that her application was denied solely because of her Christian beliefs on sexuality and gender expression. Bates, who has been a foster parent for several years, argues that her beliefs do not impact her ability to provide a loving and supportive home for a child. She also claims that the state’s decision to reject her application violates her constitutional rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law.
According to ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs in a statement, he said: “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.”
“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.”
“Oregon’s policy makes a sweeping claim that all persons who hold certain religious beliefs—beliefs held by millions of Americans from diverse religious faiths—are categorically unfit to care for children,” said ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse.
“That’s simply not true. Oregon is putting its political agenda above the needs of countless children who would be happy to grow up in a loving, Christian home like Jessica’s. We urge the court to remind the state of its constitutional and moral obligations and reaffirm Jessica’s First Amendment right to live out her faith without being penalized by the government.”
Bates’ case is the latest in a series of legal challenges to state adoption and foster care policies that allegedly discriminate against individuals based on their religious beliefs. In recent years, several conservative Christian groups have sued state and local governments over similar issues, arguing that their members’ beliefs on sexuality are being unfairly targeted.
The case is expected to draw national attention as it raises questions about the balance between religious freedom and the government’s obligation to protect the rights of children in the foster care system.
For Bates, the lawsuit is about more than just her own desire to adopt. She hopes that it will help pave the way for other families with similar beliefs to open their homes to children in need.