ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by then-President Barack Obama has ruled that the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) did not discriminate or act with anti-religious bias when it issued an ultimatum to a Christian adoption agency to either change its policies in regard to only placing children in homes with both a mother and father or discontinue its foster and adoption program.
“Ultimately, OCFS stands on firm ground in requiring authorized agencies to abide by New York’s non-discrimination policies when administering public services,” wrote U.S. District Judge Mae D’Agostino. “[T]he First Amendment does not prohibit government regulation of religiously motivated conduct so long as that regulation is not a veiled attempt to suppress disfavored religious beliefs.”
“[W]hile New Hope may assert that OCFS’s actions were not driven by a sincere commitment to equality, but rather by anti-religious bias, the current record does not show religious persecution or bias,” she concluded.
As previously reported, New Hope Family Services of Syracuse, which was founded in 1965 by a pastor and seeks “to be Christ’s hands extended to offer hope and help to people with pregnancy, parenting, adoption, or post-abortion needs,” was visited in September by a representative of the New York OCFS for an official review that included meeting with staff and perusing sample records.
Syracuse regional office Director Sara Simon later sent New Hope Interim Director Judy Geyer a letter that, while requesting a few policy adjustments, praised the organization for its work.
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