New Hope Family Services Has Its Day In Court

As Albany Update has previously reported, the State of New York has demanded that New Hope Family Services—a Christian adoption agency in Syracuse that is funded by private donations—change its adoption placement practices. According to the state, New Hope is violating state regulations because it declines to place children for adoption with same-sex couples or with unmarried parents. The state claims that New Hope’s approach to adoption placement constitutes discrimination.

Like other faith-based adoption agencies around the country facing similar situations, New Hope has been presented with two unappealing options: Violate your own beliefs or shut down your adoption services. Unwilling to give in to the pressure, New Hope has sued the State of New York.

On Tuesday, February 19, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Mae D’Agostino in Albany. The judge considered two motions: The state’s motion to dismiss New Hope’s case and New Hope’s motion for a preliminary injunction (which would allow New Hope’s adoption services to continue operating while the case proceeds). At the motion hearing, Judge D’Agostino aggressively questioned ADF Senior Counsel Roger Brooks, comparing New Hope’s policies to racially discriminatory “separate but equal” practices. In regard to New Hope’s unwillingness to place children in same-sex households, Judge D’Agostino asked Mr. Brooks, “What are you afraid of?” In response, Mr. Brooks argued that the state’s regulations unconstitutionally infringed upon the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In addition, he pointed out that persons interested in becoming adoptive parents were free to work with one of the more than 100 other adoption placement agencies throughout the state if they did not fit New Hope’s faith-based criteria. At this writing, Judge D’Agostino has not yet released her decision.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms thanks ADF for stepping forward to defend New Hope Family Services.