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Children’s Rights Congratulates Lambda and Americans United on Victory for Lesbian Woman Rejected by Foster Care Agency

Contact: Camilla Jenkins, cjenkins@childrensrights.org  

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Lambda Legal today declared victory on behalf of Kelly Easter, a Tennessee woman who for more than two years had been denied the opportunity to foster refugee children solely because she is a lesbian. The organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with several HHS officials and programs, for sanctioning discrimination by taxpayer-funded organizations against LGBTQ+ foster parent applicants. The lawsuit was resolved when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told HHS it no longer has a religious objection to working with a single lesbian foster parent (although objections remain in place for same-sex married couples), prompting Easter to voluntarily dismiss her case.

In response, Daniele Gerard, Senior Staff Attorney, Children’s Rights, issued the following statement:

“This victory is a meaningful first step toward helping children find safe and loving homes, and toward denying federally-funded foster care agencies a license to discriminate. But as Americans United and Lambda have noted, this is only a partial win in the larger battle to end the practice of denying LGBTQ+ families the ability to foster and adopt children based on the religious beliefs of taxpayer-funded organizations. Children’s Rights respects and values the role that faith-based agencies play in providing services for children in foster care. Our concern is with government-sanctioned discrimination of any kind.”

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Every day, children are harmed in America’s child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.