(LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic couple has filed a lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts for rejecting their application to become foster parents, accusing the state of turning them down because of their religious beliefs and opposition to LGBT ideology.
On Tuesday, Becket law firm filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, Mike and Kitty Burke, who were denied an opportunity to become foster parents by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) because they hold fast to the teachings of the Catholic Church on gender and sexuality, which the state deemed “unsupportive.”
“Massachusetts has put vulnerable children into hospital rooms and office spaces because it lacks enough loving foster families,” reads a press release from the legal group. “Hundreds of children in the state’s foster care system need homes, and religious parents like Mike and Kitty Burke are ready to open their hearts and homes.”
“Massachusetts cannot exclude religious couples like the Burkes from fostering because they are religious, nor can they punish qualified families for their deeply held religious beliefs. If this can happen to the Burkes, it can happen to loving, qualified foster families of diverse faiths across Massachusetts.”
The couple, who have struggled with infertility throughout their marriage, originally applied to the foster care program in 2022 and consequently “underwent hours of training, which they completed successfully.” They were also recommended by their instructor for “positive contributions in the class.”
During home interviews, the couple “emphasized their willingness to foster children from diverse backgrounds and with special needs” along with their “openness to fostering sibling groups” to “maintain those critical family ties.”
“The Burkes were troubled that much of the questions centered on their Catholic views on sexual orientation, marriage, and gender dysphoria,” the release continues. “In response to these questions, the Burkes emphasized that they would love and accept any child, no matter the child’s future sexual orientation or struggles with gender identity.”
The state reviewer ultimately “denied them a license to foster any child” because the reviewer decided that “their faith is not supportive, and neither are they,” a verdict that Becket said “is as unconstitutional as it is unnecessary.”
“After months of interviews and training, and after years of heartbreak, we were on the verge of finally becoming parents,” the couple said. “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 complaint, filed on August 8, further details that the couple—described by the state as “devoutly Roman Catholic”—stand by their faith-inspired beliefs “that all children should be loved and supported, and they would never reject a child placed in their home.” Additionally, the document specifies their belief “that children should not undergo procedures that attempt to change their God-given sex, and they uphold Catholic beliefs about marriage and sexuality.”
There are currently no legal restrictions against chemical or surgical intervention for gender confusion in Massachusetts.
Interviewers with the DCF recognized the “family’s strengths, this including their willingness to parent a child w/ moderately significant medical, mental health and behavioral needs” and that the couple “really seem to understand adoption/foster care.”
However, the “one reason…given for [the] denial” was the assertion that the Burkes “would not be affirming to a child who identified as LGBTQIA.” The author of the couple’s license study described them as “lovely people” but ultimately decided that “their faith is not supportive, and neither are they.”
The lawsuit “requests that the court declare that the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution require Defendants to cease discriminating against Plaintiffs and those who share Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs on the basis of their religious beliefs, exercise, and expression” as well as “issue preliminary and permanent relief requiring Defendants, their agents, employees, and those acting in concert with any of them to expunge or amend the Burkes’ file so that it no longer reflects Defendants’ discriminatory statements, actions, and denial.”
The incredibly liberal state has seen other challenges to its pro-LGBT and pro-abortion culture, including a lawsuit filed by the family of a 12-year-old boy who was sent home from school for wearing a t-shirt with the message “there are only two genders.” Young citizens have also pushed back against the LGBT agenda by countering so-called “pride” events at schools.
Backlash from the public also led a local Democrat leader to resign after he suggested that aborting babies could be used as a method of saving money. Amid the culture war, conservatives have also won local victories, such as with pro-life initiatives to combat abortion activism and by stopping legal attempts to force life-affirming organizations to promote abortion.