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Judge: Antigay N.Y. Adoption Agency Can Turn Away Same-Sex Couples

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Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava

The Christian-affiliated agency refuses to comply with state nondiscrimination laws.

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Reversing an earlier ruling of hers, an Albany, N.Y.-based federal judge decided a Christian-affiliated adoption agency can remain open even though it refuses to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried adults.

New Hope Family Services of Syracuse, N.Y., refused to change its placement policy after New York State passed a nondiscrimination law in 2014. New Hope officials claimed they didn't deny same-sex couples and unmarried prospective parents the chance to adopt because they would refer them to other agencies that allowed such parents, reports Syracuse.com.

Eventually, the state's Office of Children and Family Services found New Hope's policy incompatible with the state's laws -- officials demanded New Hope modernize its rules or shut down. Instead, New Hope sued.

U.S. District Judge Mae A. D'Agostino initially ruled against New Hope and their constitutional arguments in 2019. The agency appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that New Hope's discriminatory policies were a form of free speech. In their ruling, the judges announced that allowing a same-sex couple or single parent to adopt a child was tantamount to New Hope giving its blessing to such a family.

Following the appeals court ruling, D'Agostino reversed her earlier decision, saying New Hope has a First Amendment right to deny same-sex or unmarried couples. The state's Office of Children and Family Services did not find a specific person or couple who was unable to adopt because of New Hope's antiquated policy -- likely because of their referrals to other agencies -- making it hard to prove anyone was harmed by the refusal to accommodate unconventional families.

D'Agostino's ruling has been hailed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Neal Broverman

Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.
Neal Broverman is the Editorial Director, Print of Pride Media, publishers of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus, spending more than 20 years in journalism. He indulges his interest in transportation and urban planning with regular contributions to Los Angeles magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He lives in the City of Angels with his husband, children, and their chiweenie.