Oregon Mother Barred from Adopting Over Beliefs on Gender

Oregon Mother Barred from Adopting Over Beliefs on Gender

A mother in Oregon has been barred by the state from adopting children from foster care due to her refusal to affirm a hypothetical child’s gender transition, use false pronouns that do not match a child’s biological sex and allow a child access to cross-sex hormones or puberty blockers.

Jessica Bates is represented in court by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and has received support from detransitioners and adoptive parents, as well as other entities such as religious liberty groups, free speech advocates and even 20 states, through friend-of-the-court briefs.

Bates’ application to adopt from Oregon’s foster care system was denied when she notified the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) that her Christian faith prevented her from affirming a child’s gender transition and that she would not take a child to receive cross-sex hormone treatment.

Bates, whose husband died in a car accident in 2017, is a Christian single mother of five biological children. She applied to adopt from Oregon’s foster care system in March of 2022, according to a district court ruling. When she attended a training as part of her application process, she and the others present were informed that “supporting a child’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression meant that parents should use a child’s preferred pronouns and affirm a child’s gender identity.” The training and materials gave suggestions for how to support LGBTQ children, such as taking a child to a gay pride parade or hanging a rainbow flag or a “pink triangle” (a symbol for the LGBTQ community) in the house.

An Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) requires applicants to “respect, accept and support the … sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression … of a child or young adult in the care or custody of [ODHS].”

Bates notified ODHS that her faith conflicts with affirming a child’s gender identity if it differs from the child’s biological sex, but that she has “no problem accepting [children] as they are.” Bates has repeatedly said that she is open to receiving any child, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

Bates received no response at first, but eventually was asked by an ODHS employee how she would react in a hypothetical situation in which ODHS asked her to “take a child to receive hormone shots as a part of a child’s ‘gender transition.’” Bates replied that she would not take the child to the appointment, adding that she believed giving children cross-sex hormones to be child abuse.

Bates’ application was denied for failure to comply with the above-mentioned OAR. She took the matter to a district court, claiming among other allegations that the OAR is not a neutral rule and favors secular viewpoints over religious viewpoints. The court ruled against her, stating that the rule is “both neutral and generally applicable” and that “prioritizing applicants who will respect and affirm an LGBTQ+ child’s identity is not, in and of itself, an endorsement of a secular viewpoint because … religious applicants may also have neutral or pro-LGBTQ+ views.”

ADF attorneys filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on Dec. 13, and Bates filed her opening brief on Jan. 11. According to ADF, she is asking the court to allow her certification while her lawsuit, Bates v. Pakseresht, progresses.

Last Thursday, Jan. 18, 20 states, several groups—including Christian Alliance for Orphans and Concerned Women for America—as well as several individuals, including four detransitioners, filed friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of Bates with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The multi-state brief was led by Idaho and says, “Here, it is not difficult to see the next applications of Oregon’s unconstitutional law. Unchecked, it will spread and effectively ostracize people of faith from society. The First Amendment exists to prevent that very thing. And its protections apply against Oregon’s law, which must be enjoined if the First Amendment is to be given force.”

“Oregon is essentially using an ideological litmus test,” Bates’s attorney Christiana Kiefer told Fox News last April. “It welcomes people from all cultural and religious backgrounds to adopt, unless they disagree with the State’s gender ideology.”

Bates discussed how the rule bars anyone with traditional beliefs about gender, regardless of their religious background, from taking in these children who desperately need families.

“It’s not going to help them get out of there, it’s not advocating for their best interest,” she said.

Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom

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