Family

Lesbian Couple Sue Catholic Group, Gov’t Agencies After They’re Turned Down as Foster Parent Hopefuls

Gay activists say a taxpayer-funded charity violated their civil rights

“It’s a matter of gay bullying and harassment,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue on Tuesday night’s “The Ingraham Angle.”

“They’re gay activists. They are trying to shove their secular values down our throats,” he added. “Secular militants [are] trying to shove their way in and basically neuter Catholic institutions.”

Donohue, speaking from New York City, spoke to host Laura Ingraham on the Wednesday night Fox News program to discuss a vexing case filed in federal court this week that pits a religious organization’s civil liberties against those of individual citizens.

The case involves a lesbian couple that is suing the federal government and a Catholic organization because it funds a charity that does not permit same-sex couples to foster refugee children.

Fort Worth married lesbian couple Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin allege that Catholic Charities of Fort Worth (CCFW) denied them the opportunity to foster a refugee child based on their sexual orientation. In response, the women, both professors at Texas A&M, filed suit in district court on Tuesday, naming United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) as defendants.

CCFW receives sub-grants from USCCB to find foster homes for refugee children, The Washington Post reported. The USCCB receives taxpayer funds from HHS’ ORR to accomplish that goal.

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The sea of acronyms in this case is enough to make your head spin. The shorthand version is this: A nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that gives money to Catholic Charities of Fort Worth to place refugee children itself receives grants from the federal government.

Marouf and Esplin’s legal team, Lambda Legal, is well-known for its work in defending the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Lambda Legal say the women’s civil liberties were compromised, noting that violations of both the First and Fifth Amendments are in play, according to The Post.

The court complaint says that the director of international foster care at the Catholic group’s Fort Worth affiliate told the couple they were ineligible to foster because fostering families must “mirror the Holy Family,” the Texas Tribune reported.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Bishop Michael Olson said, “Finding foster parents — and other resources — for refugee children is difficult work.” The bishop also explained that “Catholic Charities are often the lead agent in this work. It would be tragic if Catholic Charities were not able to provide this help, in accordance with the Gospel values and family assistance that is so essential to these children, who are vulnerable to being mistreated as meaningless in society.”

Thhe couple were told they were ineligible to foster because fostering families must “mirror the Holy Family,” the Texas Tribune reported.

Esplin, for her part, spoke of the couple’s reaction to the phone call from Catholic Charities Fort Worth in which they discovered they did not meet the agency’s criteria as potential foster parents.

“At the first interview, to be turned away from even applying because we did not ‘mirror the Holy Family,’ which we clarified meant that we were a same-sex couple, was not only deeply disappointing to us, but it denies children the opportunity to have a loving home,” she told the Dallas Observer.

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Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.

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