A devout Catholic couple claims that Massachusetts banned them from participating in the state foster care system due to their religious beliefs.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by religious liberty group Becket Law, Mike and Catherine “Kitty” Burke specifically claim the state restricted them from fostering children in the state due to their adherence to Catholic teachings on gender, sexuality and marriage.
“After months of interviews and training, and after years of heartbreak, we were on the verge of finally becoming parents,” the couple said in a statement. “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 lawsuit claims that the state listed only one reason for denying the Burke’s foster application, which was that they “would not be affirming to a child who identified as LGBTQIA.”
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Mike and Catherine “Kitty” Burke were banned from fostering children in Massachusetts due to their religious beliefs, according to a lawsuit. (Becket Law)
“As faithful Catholics, the Burkes believe that all children should be loved and supported, and they would never reject a child placed in their home. They also believe that children should not undergo procedures that attempt to change their God-given sex, and they uphold Catholic beliefs about marriage and sexuality,” the lawsuit continues.
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The lawsuit names Massachusets Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families Linda Spears, and others as defendants.
Massachusets Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh is named as the lead plaintiff in Becket Law’s lawsuit. (Mass.gov)
The lawsuit includes a copy of the letter the Burkes received notifying them that their application to be foster parents was denied.
“In order to be licensed as a foster/adoptive parent, a foster/pre-adoptive parent applicant must meet the following requirements: (1) A foster/pre-adoptive parent applicant must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Department the ability: (d) to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of a child placed in his or her care, including supporting and respecting a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity; (e) to respect and make efforts to support the integrity of a child’s racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious background,” the letter reads, quoting the state regulations for Standards for Licensure as a Foster/Pre-adoptive Parent.
Becket filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
In addition, The CF Foster Child Bill of Rights states that every child “shall be treated with respect by DCF staff, foster parents and providers without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and/or disability,” it continues.
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Fox News reached out to the Massachusets Health and Human Services and Massachusetts Department of Children & Families for comment, but neither immediately responded.
The lawsuit seeks to prohibit Massachusetts from using LGBTQ accommodations to decline to issue foster licenses to religious applicants. It further seeks that the Burkes’ application be granted and that they receive “nominal and compensatory damages” from the defendants.