South Carolina same-sex couple have court date in adoption challenge

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Rainbow circle with family and a child

The application to foster a child was denied because of religious criteria

A South Carolina couple will be granted their day in court after challenging a rule that would have allowed for discrimination against same-sex couples looking to adopt children. A federal court will hear the appeal against the Trump administration’s efforts to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs.

decision could have a ripple effect on a a host of services like health care, homeless shelters, and food delivery programs

Couple Eden Rogers and Brandy Welch were denied an adoption. Miracle Hill Ministries is South Carolina’s largest state-contracted foster care agency which receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government. The couple’s application to foster a child was denied because they did not meet the agency’s religious criteria.

“The thousands of children in South Carolina’s foster care system are the ones who suffer most when agencies like Miracle Hill use religion as a license to discriminate against people who can provide a loving, nurturing home,” Susan Dunn, legal director for the ACLU of South Carolina, said“By allowing this practice to continue, the state of South Carolina and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have failed the vulnerable children they are supposed to be helping. We are excited this case is moving ahead and look forward to continuing the fight against government using religion to deprive children of loving homes.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the state of South Carolina had been trying to get Rogers and Welch’s lawsuit dismissed. The Supreme Court of the United States will be weighing in on a similar case in Philadelphia. A foster care agency in the city, which has a nondiscrimination requirement that prohibits City-contracted foster care agencies from discriminating against same-sex couples, is claiming the city has violated its Constitutional rights.

Though the specific issue is child welfare, the Supreme Court’s decision could have a ripple effect on a a host of taxpayer-funded government services like health care, homeless shelters, and food delivery programs.

“This is great news, and we look forward to Eden’s and Brandy’s day in court,” Currey Cook, Counsel and Director of the Youth In Out-Of-Home Care Project at Lambda Legal, said. “No child in foster care who can’t safely be with their family should be denied the opportunity of a loving and nurturing foster home simply because the prospective parents don’t meet a  taxpayer-funded agency’s religious litmus test. Eden’s and Brandy’s faith and sexual orientation have no bearing on their suitability to provide a home for children in need.”