Family Equality Council Applauds Lawsuit Calling Out HHS Discrimination Against Lesbian Couple

Couple denied foster care placement because family structure does not “mirror the holy family”

For Immediate Release — February 20, 2018

NEW YORK — Family Equality Council welcomes a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal today on behalf of a lesbian couple in Texas who were denied the opportunity to become foster parents because their family structure doesn’t “mirror the holy family.” This denial of service, framed in religious terms by an agency tasked with using taxpayer dollars to find foster parents for refugee children, is yet another example of a child welfare agency prioritizing its religious beliefs over the best interests of vulnerable children.

The lawsuit, Marouf v. Azar, was filed against the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on behalf of Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, a married, same-sex couple. USCCB receives millions of dollars from HHS to assist with the federal government’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program and the Unaccompanied Alien Child Program, taxpayer dollars that fund the child-placing agency that refused to serve Fatma and Bryn because of their family structure.

“Child placing agencies have a responsibility to place the needs of children first,” said Family Equality Council CEO Rev. Stan J. Sloan. “Once again, religious beliefs are being used to justify denying vulnerable children the opportunity to join a loving, stable family.”

Family Equality Council stands with plaintiffs Fatma and Bryn in calling out the harm caused by anti-LGBTQ discrimination in child-placing agencies, and thanks to the legal team at Lambda Legal and Hogan Lovells for bringing this important suit.

Read the complaint here.

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. We are changing attitudes and policies to ensure that all families are respected, loved, and celebrated — including families with parents who are LGBTQ. We are a community of parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren and unattached youth that reaches across this country. For almost forty years we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families. As we look to the next chapter of our work, we are also focused on LGBTQ youth needing families and the two million LGBTQ adults waiting to foster or adopt in our country.