A Texas lesbian couple is suing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, alleging that a religious charity didn’t allow them to adopt a refugee child because they did not meet their qualifications, Dallas Morning News reported.
Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin said that the Catholic Charities Fort Worth, a Texas affiliate of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, refused to let them adopt a refugee child because they didn’t “mirror the Holy Family.”
In their lawsuit, the couple argues that HHS and the Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is one of the main agencies that help the federal government settle refugee children, violated the Constitution by using a religious test in its foster care decisions.
The organization is prioritizing its religious beliefs over the well-being of the children, the couple said.
The charity’s language was “clearly code for being a same-sex couple” and was “hurtful and insulting,” Esplin said.
"Refugee children have been through enough trauma to last a lifetime," Marouf, said. "They need love, stability, and support, which Bryn and I have in abundance."
In 2017, Texas passed a law that extended legal protection to adoption and foster care agencies that turn away prospective parents based on religious beliefs.
Many faith-based adoption groups in the state already have standards that refuse prospective parents who do not meet their parenting standards.
Lambda Legal, the LGBT rights organization representing the Texas couple, said that the state's law does not apply to Marouf and Esplin's case because the federal government runs the refugee foster care.