A lawsuit was filed on Monday by a single mother of five against the Oregon Department of Human Services over claims that they denied her adoption application as a result of her Christian beliefs.
The lawsuit was filed by the Alliance for Defending Freedom, which explained in a press release how Jessica Bates was denied the right to adopt a foster child because of concerns that she would not respect a child’s decision to “come out” as LGBT or embrace other progressive orthodoxies.
In March 2022, Bates applied to adopt a “sibling pair” of children under the age of 10. The 41-page lawsuit stated that during the adoption training, Bates became aware that her religious beliefs might conflict with some of the Department’s expectations for adoptive parents.
The press release states:
Jessica Bates began the process of applying to become certified to adopt a child from Oregon’s foster care system one year ago. The Oregon Department of Human Services, the agency responsible for the delivery and administration of the state’s child welfare programs, denied her application because individuals seeking to adopt must agree to “respect, accept, and support … the sexual orientation, gender identity, [and] gender expression” of any child the department could place in an applicant’s home, and Bates could not agree to this because of her faith.
The lawsuit explains that during one of the training sessions, an instructor informed Bates that Oregon law mandates adoptive parents to “affirm” a child’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and preferred pronouns. However, Bates insisted that she would never allow anything to get in the way of her Christian beliefs:
During her application process, Bates alerted ODHS that she will happily love and accept any child, but she cannot say or do something that goes against her Christian faith. ODHS’s policy, however, excludes her and others who hold traditional religious beliefs about human nature and sexuality by requiring parents to use a child’s preferred pronouns, take a child to affirming events like Pride parades, or facilitate a child’s access to dangerous pharmaceutical interventions like puberty blockers and hormone shots if the child so requests.
As such, ODHS’s policy penalizes Bates for her religious views, compels her to speak words that violate her beliefs, and deprives her of equal protection of the law because of her faith.
The release also explains how Bates, who was widowed six years ago, felt the process of adopting a child would help her to embrace her Christian faith:
Bates, who lost her husband in a car collision six years ago, is a mother of five children, ages 10 to 17. Inspired by the story of a man who adopted a child from foster care, Bates felt a calling to follow the biblical teaching to care for orphans. She seeks to adopt a sibling pair, who are generally harder to place. State officials, however, rejected her application for failing to “meet the adoption home standards” and excluded her from accessing any child welfare service because she refused to abandon her religious beliefs.
ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs, director of the ADF Center for Conscience Initiatives, argued that Oregon’s policy “amounts to an ideological litmus test,” which only progressives may pass:
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.
The lawsuit Bates v. Pakseresht was filed by ADF attorneys in the Pendleton Division of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Its principal complaints are violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1871,