One of the nation’s largest foster care and adoption agencies announced Monday it will no longer discriminate against potential LGBTQ+ parents. Bethany Christian Services announced they will now fully service same-sex couples and others seeking to adopt or foster children in need. Previously, the agency referred those groups to other agencies who did not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.
“For the past 75 years, Bethany Christian Services has never wavered from our mission of demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus to children and families,” Chris Palusky, Bethany’s president said in a statement. “We help families stay together, we reunify families who are separated, and we help vulnerable children find safe, stable homes when they cannot remain in their own.”
After noting that “families look a lot different than they did” when Bethany began providing services 75 years ago, Palusky went on to call for an “all hands on deck” approach to “finding families and resources for children in the greatest need.”
In the past, Bethany Christian Services did not provide services to same-sex couples or members of the LGBTQ+ community. Individual staffers, though, routinely referred queer applicants to agencies that did not discriminate. Monday’s announcement means the agency now has a single policy for all applicants regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
“This decision implements consistent, inclusive practices for LGBTQ families across our organizations,” Nate Bult, Bethany’s senior vice president of public and government affairs, was quoted by Religion News. “We’ve had a patchwork approach for the last few years.”
Not everyone was pleased with the decision by Bethany, however. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, expressed the conservative group’s displeasure at the move by Bethany to no longer discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.
“I am disappointed in this decision, as are many,” Moore was quoted in the Seattle Times. “This move will harm already existing efforts to enable faith-based orphan care ministries to serve the vulnerable without capitulating on core Christian convictions.”
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last November in the case of Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia, in which the city canceled contracts with the agency after it refused to provide services to LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples seeking help becoming foster parents. A decision in the case is expected later this year.