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2nd Circuit: Free Speech and Free Exercise Claims of Christian Adoption Agency Can Move Forward

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In New Hope Family Services, Inc. v. Poole, (2d Cir., July 21, 2020), the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in an 84-page opinion, reversed the dismissal of free exercise and free speech claims brought by a Christian adoption agency.  The court summarized the issues:

New Hope Family Services, Inc., is a voluntary, privately funded Christian ministry devoted to providing adoption services and authorized to do so in the State of New York for more than 50 years. New Hope professes that, consistent with its religious beliefs, it cannot recommend adoptions by unmarried or same-sex couples. It does not itself disapprove such couples; rather, it refers them to other adoption agencies. In 2018, the State’s Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) informed New Hope that its policy respecting unmarried and same-sex couples violates the antidiscrimination mandate of N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 18, § 421.3(d). OCFS advised New Hope that it either had to change its policy or close its operation.

In reversing and remanding the case to the district court, the 2nd Circuit said in part as to plaintiff’s free exercise claim:

[W]e conclude that the pleadings give rise to a sufficient “suspicion” of religious animosity to warrant “pause” for discovery before dismissing New Hope’s claim as implausible.

In connection with plaintiff’s free speech claim, the court said:

New Hope asserts that, based on its religious beliefs about marriage and family, it does not believe and, therefore, cannot state, that adoption by unmarried or same-sex couples would ever be in the best interests of a child. It charges OCFS with requiring it to say just that—or to close down its voluntary, privately funded adoption ministry….

AP reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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