A Christian couple who were denied the right to foster a child because they refused to respect non-binary pronouns if the child identified as transgender, are now using the state of Massachusetts for ‘religious discrimination.’
According to Michael and Catherine Burke, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) rejected their application after a social worker approved it “with conditions, specifically around religion and LGBTQIA++ related issues.”
The couple was asked if they would have a problem if the foster child were LGBT and wished to be addressed with specific pronouns.
Catherine Burke then referred to so-called “gender-affirming care” as chemical castration, suggested taking “the T out of it,” and “expressed hesitation” around using they/them pronouns.
The couple, however, made it clear that they would respect the child’s wishes and continue to “love [the child] the same,” and even attend their child’s LGBT wedding.
But that wasn’t enough for the state.
The couple is suing the DCF on First Amendment grounds and cites five violations.
“The Burkes were devastated to learn that they were denied a license to foster or adopt any child in the Massachusetts child welfare system,” stated the couples’ lawyer, Lori Windham.
“They’re asking the court to get rid of that discriminatory denial so that they will not be barred from fostering or adopting children in the future, in Massachusetts or elsewhere,” Windham added.
Currently, the US has a “critical shortage” of foster homes, with roughly 407,000 children in foster care in the country.
The news comes months after a mother in Oregon sued her state in a similar situation after her religious beliefs on gender barred her from adopting a pair of siblings.
According to Oregon’s Department of Human Services, the state’s adoption application requires that potential parents “respect, accept and support… the sexual orientation, gender identity, [and] gender expression” of children, the New York Post notes.