Oregon sued for preventing Christians from adopting children

Applicants must commit to "respect, accept and support the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression" of the minor.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) denounced Oregon's child adoption policies for discriminating against Christians. In the lawsuit, they point out that Christians, and those who do not commit to "respect, accept and support the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression" of the minor, have their requests denied, which violates their First Amendment rights.

First Amendment Violation

ADF became involved in the case on behalf of Jessica Bates, a widowed mother of five, who initiated the application process in 2022 to apply for the certification application process, in order to adopt a child from the foster care system. The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), which is responsible for the delivery and administration of the state's child welfare programs, denied her application because Bates' faith, Christian, prevented her from signing such a document. This is blatant discrimination and a violation of their First Amendment rights, according to Jonathan Scruggs, ADF senior attorney and director of ADF's Center for Conscience Initiatives:

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 "puts its political agenda above the needs of children"

Bates explained to the supervisors of her application that she would be happy to love and accept any child, but ODHS requires adoptive parents to use a child's preferred pronouns, take the child to affirming events such as Pride parades, or facilitate a child's access to dangerous interventions such as puberty blockers and hormone injections if the child requests them. Bates requested custody of a pair of siblings, who are often the ones who find homes with the most difficulty, but that didn't soften the authorities ruling either. ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse lamented that Oregon places "its political agenda above the needs of countless children."

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. 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.