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SYRACUSE, N.Y., February 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Attorneys from the nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are asking the state of New York to stop singling out and punishing a Christian adoption agency because of its religious beliefs.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews, ADF attorney Jeana Hallock said at today’s hearing before Judge Mae A. D’Agostino, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York heard the appeal by New Hope Family Services for a preliminary injunction against the state of New York. According to Hallock, D’Agostino expects to issue a ruling soon on that request and also a request for dismissal issued by attorneys for New York.

According to ADF, New York’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is threatening to shut down New Hope Family Services because of the religious nonprofit’s policy of prioritizing the placement of children for adoption in homes with a married mother and father. In a lawsuit against the state, New Hope asked a federal court in December to stop OCFS from targeting New Hope so that the adoption agency can continue placing children in adoptive homes while the lawsuit moves forward.

“Every child deserves a permanent home with loving parents,” said Hallock, according to a release. “For over 50 years, New Hope has served children and families throughout the state of New York by offering a comprehensive, ‘arm-around-the-shoulder’ ministry and walking with both birth parents and adoptive parents to place children in forever homes.” Hallock asserted that protecting New Hope will not interfere with other adoption providers. She said shutting down New Hope will be a loss for the entire state.

New Hope operates as a pregnancy resource center, temporary-foster-placement agency, and adoption agency, and has never accepted state funding. Its ministry is supported by adoption fees and contributions from churches, individuals, and private grants.

According to the lawsuit, New Hope Family Services v. Poole, New York’s government adoption agency once sent a letter to New Hope praising the nonprofit for “a number of strengths in providing adoption services within the community.” Later, OCFS changed course when it singled out New Hope’s child placement policy. OCFS described the policy as “discriminatory and impermissible” despite the fact that New Hope refers unmarried and same-sex couples to other providers and has faced no formal complaints from prospective parents due to its policy. OCFS then issued an ultimatum to New Hope to revise its policy or submit a closeout plan for its adoption program.

“There’s no reason for the state to single out and punish those whose faith teaches them that the best home for a child includes a married father and mother,” said ADF senior counsel Roger Brooks. “Adoption providers exist to assist children, not to affirm the desires of adults. Children in Syracuse, throughout New York, and across the country will suffer if this discrimination and hostility toward faith-based adoption providers becomes the status quo.”

ADF attorneys are asking the court to protect New Hope from being singled out, punished, or disfavored because of its religious beliefs — beliefs that motivate its care for women facing unplanned pregnancies and their children.

New Hope Family Services was founded in 1965 by a group of local Christian ministers and has placed children in more than 1,000 adoptive families. It operates a center that provides pregnancy tests, medical referrals, counseling, and comprehensive adoption services.