A Tennessee couple accused a Christian-based adoption agency partially funded by the state's children's services department of refusing to assist them because they are Jewish. Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram are now suing the state's children's services department.
According to Daily Mail, the couple noted that they were refused state-mandated foster parent training and a home-study certification by Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville, Tennessee, when they tried to adopt last year.
The couple filed a lawsuit against a law signed by Governor Bill Lee two years ago that allows religion-based adoption agencies to reject families whose religious or moral beliefs are not in sync with theirs. The said law allows adoption agencies to reject services if they 'violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies.'
'It was very shocking'
The couple, after discovering that they can't have biological children called the rejection based on their religion 'a punch in the gut.' "It was the first time I felt discriminated against because I am Jewish. It was very shocking," Elizabeth said.
The couple said that the agency assured them it would help them to foster and eventually adopt a child in Florida. According to the lawsuit, the day they were set to start their training, they were told that the agency only serves couples who share their belief system.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Child Services and the Tennessee Attorney General's offices refused to comment on the matter. Comments from the adoption agency's President and CEO Bradley Williams were also not available.
The couple is now fostering a teenage girl, who they plan to adopt in the future. The associate vice president and associate legal director at Americans United Alex J. Luchenitser released a statement on behalf of the couple. "Tennessee is reneging on that promise by allowing a taxpayer-funded agency to discriminate against Liz and Gabe Rutan-Ram because they are Jews," he said.
Four local religious leaders have also joined the couple's in the suit.