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Faith-based adoption provider forced to sue NY officials second time for harassment over marriage views

State agency threatening to investigate, penalize New Hope Family Services despite victories in separate lawsuit, recent relevant US Supreme Court decision

Friday, Sep 17, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a faith-based adoption provider filed a federal lawsuit Friday after the New York Division of Human Rights threatened to investigate and penalize the Christian nonprofit because it places infants with couples consisting of a mother and father committed to each other in marriage.

The state agency has served threatening information demands on New Hope Family Services even though, in a separate lawsuit between New Hope and another New York state agency, two federal courts have already found that the state likely violates New Hope’s First Amendment rights by attempting to force it to place children in a manner inconsistent with its religious beliefs. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court even more recently held that an effort by the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment rights of a faith-based foster-care agency by invoking non-discrimination laws to force the organization to operate in violation of its religious beliefs.

“As multiple federal court decisions have found, government officials have no business forcing faith-based providers to choose between contradicting their religious convictions and closing their doors,” said ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks. “What is happening to New Hope Family Services is part of a disturbing trend from Alaska and Washington to Colorado and New York: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them. We have filed this lawsuit to put a stop to state officials’ illegal and indefensible harassment of New Hope, which only wishes to continue serving New York families as it has for more than 50 years.”

In August, the New York Division of Human Rights launched discriminatory and harassing information demands of New Hope based on a complaint filed by an individual who sent a vague request for information to New Hope but never applied for any adoption services. The individual filed a multi-page complaint with NYDHR the very next business day.

Since its founding more than half a century ago, New Hope has worked with birthmothers and adoptive parents to place more than 1,000 New York children into permanent homes. New Hope devotes its efforts exclusively to placing infants and very young children for adoption. It has an extraordinary record of being willing to place, and successfully finding adoptive parents willing to accept, children who are categorized as “hard to place” due to disability, medical condition, race, or other factors. In recent decades, the vast majority of infants placed by New Hope have fallen into one or more “hard to place” categories. Yet New Hope has never failed to find a permanent adoptive home for any child entrusted to its care—even infants with severe medical conditions.

In order to scrupulously ensure its autonomy to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs, New Hope accepts no government funding. Its operations are entirely funded by private contributions and by fees paid by couples with which New Hope works to perform home studies and complete adoptions.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, New Hope Family Services v. James, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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