Suit: US enabling LGBTQ discrimination in foster program

Oct 13, 2021, 3:05 AM | Updated: 3:08 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The federal government is funding organizations that illegally discriminate against LGBTQ candidates to become foster care parents for unaccompanied refugee children, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges.

According to the 29-page complaint, Kelly Easter has been turned away twice from fostering a migrant child in the federal foster care program while living in Nashville, Tennessee.

The lawsuit alleges that Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services refused to permit Easter to be a foster parent late last year because she is a lesbian. Bethany is the only organization located near Easter that is participating in the federal program.

A few months after turning Easter away, Bethany’s leadership announced in March that it had changed its policy and would now be accepting applications from LGBTQ families, the lawsuit says.

But the agency told Easter she would have to drive to its office in Smyrna, Tennessee, a half-hour away, because its office located closer to her Nashville home is under contract with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which won’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Catholic Bishops receives federal funds to provide foster care services and Bethany receives money from the Catholic Bishops at its Nashville site. Bethany’s Smyrna site is funded through a different source.

“It hurt to be turned away – twice – solely because of my identity,” Easter said in a statement. “I’ve been a Christian since I was a little girl and my personal relationship with God is the most important thing to me. I also know that LGBTQ people can have thriving families and that they are as important and deserving as any other.”

The lawsuit, claiming First and Fifth Amendment violations, names the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of Refugee Resettlement as defendants. The heads of each agency were also named, including HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. The agencies did not immediately respond to email requests for comment on Wednesday.

“By preventing children under their care and custody from being placed in homes of LGBTQ people based on USCCB’s religious beliefs, the government … disserves and demeans LGBTQ children for whom they are responsible, stigmatizing them as less deserving and less worthy of respect than other children,” the lawsuit argues.

In a statement, a Bethany spokesperson said that the organization is “committed to welcoming and serving all individuals and families” and that “no one will be rejected because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“We invite anyone who is interested in providing children with a safe, loving home to contact us and begin the licensing process today,” the organization added.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington D.C.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - In this June 4, 2020, file photo Rep. Ross Wilburn, D-Ames, speaks during a news conference ...
Associated Press

Black Democratic chair gets lynching threat over Trump essay

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The first Black chair of Iowa’s Democratic Party says he received a series of racist messages, including a lynching threat, after writing an opinion piece in a local newspaper criticizing former President Donald Trump and the state Republican officials who stood with him at a recent rally in Des Moines. […]
15 hours ago
A few hundred people gathered around a median with candles, flowers and posters outside Miya Marcan...
Associated Press

Slain woman’s family sues apartment, claiming negligence

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The family of a Florida college student who detectives say was killed by a handyman at an apartment complex where they both worked and she lived has sued the owners, saying management didn’t properly vet the employee and failed to provide adequate security. The family of Miya Marcano filed the negligence […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Montana man charged with running over, killing girlfriend

Prosecutors have charged a Montana man with killing his girlfriend by running over her in his pickup truck during an alcohol-fueled argument in a grocery store parking lot. Missoula County prosecutors charged Bradley Don Nagel, 53, with deliberate homicide and driving under the influence in the death of Lucille Synek. Nagel made an initial court […]
15 hours ago
FILE - In this March 31, 2021 file photo, traffic moves along the Interstate 76 highway in Philadel...
Associated Press

Former Calif. regulator tapped to run highway safety agency

DETROIT (AP) — A former California pollution regulator is being nominated to run the nation’s highway safety agency. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Steven Cliff, who has served as deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since February, to become the agency’s administrator. If confirmed by the Senate, […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

CNN’s John King says he has MS, grateful for vaccinations

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN’s John King revealed during an on-air discussion of COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Tuesday that he has multiple sclerosis. “I’m going to share a secret I’ve never spoken before,” King said while leading a panel discussion on his “Inside Politics” show. “I’m immunocompromised. I have multiple sclerosis. So, I’m grateful you’re […]
15 hours ago
FILE - In this May 17, 2016, file photo, Oklahoma state Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, works on t...
Associated Press

Ex-GOP senator leaving party, challenging Oklahoma governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The first GOP candidate to challenge Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday he’s leaving the party and will run against Stitt as an independent, making him the second elected Oklahoma Republican in recent weeks to leave the party in part because of the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Former state […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Suit: US enabling LGBTQ discrimination in foster program