Sunday, April 23, 2023

Woman sues for ability to put her religious beliefs over the needs of LGBTQ foster kids

There isn't "two sides" to this issue. If you will not affirm the safety and health of LGBTQ kids who you may foster, then you don't need to be a foster parent. Your religious beliefs DO NOT come before their safety, health, and self-esteem. 

It shouldn't be up for debate.

From KGW8 in Oregon:

A mother in Malheur County says that she wants to adopt two of those kids from foster care, but she's been blocked by the state due to a difference in beliefs. According to Jessica Bates, Oregon turned her down because she disagreed with requirements that she unconditionally accept the sexual orientation or gender identity of her adopted children. Bates claims the state's requirements are against her religious beliefs — and now she's suing the state.

 When Bates' husband died in a car crash in 2017, she became a single mother of five biological kids. She's a Christian, and she said that after listening to the radio one day, God told her to adopt more children. That revelation led Bates to Oregon's foster care system, where she decided she wanted to adopt two kids — siblings under the age of 9. But when she went to fill out forms for her home evaluation, she got hung up on one section. Oregon's Department of Human Services requires that certified foster homes "respect, accept and support the race, ethnicity, cultural identities, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disabilities, spiritual beliefs and socioeconomic status of a child." 

DHS requires that adoptive parents meet the current and lifelong needs of a child's physical and emotional safety and well-being. The Oregon Foster Children's Bill of Rights states that children in foster care have the right to determine and express their gender identity, dress themselves accordingly, and have a say over decisions about their body when it comes to medical care. 

. . . Bates felt that accepting and supporting different sexual orientations or gender identities would contradict her religious beliefs. She sent a note to DHS and the person handling her application, writing: "I need to let you know I cannot support this behavior in a child. I have no problem loving them and accepting them as they are, but I would not encourage them in this behavior. I believe God gives us our gender/sex and it's not something we get to choose." Bates went on to say that providing gender-affirming medical care like hormone injections would be child abuse. 

 After that, Bates' application to become a foster parent was denied. She's filed a lawsuit against the state in an attempt to get the rule change, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom — a right-wing law firm that works on Christian religious freedom cases, often in opposition to LGBTQ+ rights.

The Alliance Defending Freedom is considered - and justifiably so - as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Founded by some 30 leaders of the Christian Right, the Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal advocacy and training group that has supported the recriminalization of sexual acts between consenting LGBTQ adults in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has contended that LGBTQ people are more likely to engage in pedophilia; and claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity and society. ADF also works to develop “religious liberty” legislation and case law that will allow the denial of goods and services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion. 

This further proves that Bates' lawsuit is less about religious freedom and more about weaponizing her religious beliefs as a tool to hinder the safety and health of LGBTQ people, most specifically LGBTQ children.