Foster care ban for Catholic couple

foster care

Providing foster care is off the cards at present for a Catholic couple in Massachusetts. They say their religious beliefs are behind a ban on them participating in their State’s foster care system.

Fighting the ban, Mike and Catherine “Kitty” Burke (pictured) turned to liberty group Becket Law who have filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf.

The lawsuit seeks to prohibit Massachusetts from using LGBTQ accommodations to decline issuing foster care licences to religious applicants.

It also asks for the Burkes’ application to be granted and for them to receive “nominal and compensatory damages” from the defendants.

Catholic beliefs and the State

The lawsuit specifically claims the State of Massachusetts restricted the Catholic couple from fostering children in the State. This decision was based on the Burkes’ adherence to Catholic teachings on gender, sexuality and marriage.

“After months of interviews and training, and after years of heartbreak, we were on the verge of finally becoming parents,” the Burkes say.

“We were absolutely devastated to learn that Massachusetts would rather children sleep in the hallways of hospitals than let us welcome children in need into our home.”

The lawsuit claims the State listed only one reason for denying the Burkes’ foster care application: they “would not be affirming to a child who identified as LGBTQIA.”

The lawsuit goes on to say: “As faithful Catholics, the Burkes believe that all children should be loved and supported, and they would never reject a child placed in their home.

“They also believe that children should not undergo procedures that attempt to change their God-given sex, and they uphold Catholic beliefs about marriage and sexuality.”

The lawsuit names several defendants, including the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary and the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families.

It also includes a copy of the State’s letter telling the Catholic couple their application to be foster parents had been denied.

The letter says to be licensed as a foster/adoptive parent, applicants must demonstrate their ability “to the satisfaction of the Department”.

Quoting the State regulations for Standards for Licensure as a Foster/Pre-adoptive Parent, the letter reads:

“(d) to promote the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a child placed in his or her care, including supporting and respecting a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity

“(e) to respect and make efforts to support the integrity of a child’s racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious background”

The CF Foster Child Bill of Rights also says every child “shall be treated with respect by DCF staff, foster parents and providers without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and/or disability”.

The Massachusetts Health and Human Services and the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families have not responded to requests for comment.


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