A Catholic couple is suing Massachusetts for preventing them from taking part in the state’s foster care system.
The religious liberties group, Becket Law, says state officials refused to let Mike and Kitty Burke foster any children in the state because of their religious beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender.
According to the non-profit law firm, the Burkes are the ideal foster family.
During their adoption application process, they underwent hours of training, extensive interviews, and a home examination. The couple completed the training successfully and even received high scores from instructors.
However, during a home study, the Burkes were constantly questioned about their Catholic views on sexual orientation and gender dysphoria.
The Burkes said they would adhere to their religious beliefs and love and accept any child, no matter the child’s future sexual orientation or struggles with gender identity.
But the Commonwealth was not satisfied with that response.
The couple’s home study said, “Their faith is not supportive,” with DCF officials adding that while they had strengths, their answers about sexuality and gender barred them from being licensed.
“After months of interviews and training, and after years of heartbreak, we were on the verge of finally becoming parents,” said Mike and Kitty Burke. “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.”
“This denial was as unnecessary as it was unconstitutional. Massachusetts law protects the religious liberty of foster parents. And Massachusetts is supposed to put the best interests of children first,” reads a statement from Becket.
Becket says the Department of Children and Families (DCF) does not have enough foster homes or facilities to meet the needs of kids in its care. Right now there are about 1,500 children in Massachusetts in need of a home.
“The crisis has become so extreme that the state has resorted to housing children in hospitals for weeks on end. Now more than ever, Massachusetts needs the help of parents like Mike and Kitty to foster children in need,” lawyers with the firm explained.
The couple filed a federal lawsuit on August 8th in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to ensure that families like themselves are allowed to open their homes to children in need amid the state’s foster care crisis.
“It takes the heroic effort of parents like Mike and Kitty to provide vulnerable children with loving homes through foster care,” said Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “Massachusetts’ actions leave the Burkes, and families of other faiths, out in the cold. How can they explain this to children waiting for a home?”