Couple Alleges State Rejected Their Application for Foster Care License Over Their Religious Beliefs

( – To become foster parents, applicants must meet certain criteria set forth by the state where they are applying. Over time, the criteria change as ideologies change. Now, one couple is accusing Washington state of going too far, denying their application, despite previous success, because they refused to put their religious beliefs aside.

On March 25, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit against Washington state officials who denied Shane and Jennifer DeGross’ application to foster children, something they had already been doing for nine years. Upon renewing their license, they refused to accept that people could change their gender at will and claimed that proclamation resulted in their denial. The case, DeGross v. Hunter, has been filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Legal counsel for ADF, Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, said that “state officials are putting their own ideological agenda ahead of children who just need a loving home.” The couple had tried to file for respite status, one that serves as a temporary “stopgap for children without a stable home.”

Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse said this isn’t the first time the state has tried to deny applicants the chance to foster based on their ideologies. He cites Blais v. Hunter, a case where a couple was denied the opportunity to care for their granddaughter because they wouldn’t “support hormone therapy.” In that instance, a federal court ruled in the grandparents’ favor, citing “illegal discrimination,” forcing the state to settle. However, he says, Washington officials are back at it.

The couple says it simply wants to help children, citing the Bible as their guide and the state’s need for foster parents to step in and help the tens of thousands of children who need it. The DeGrosses have said they would provide care for anyone who needs it, “but could not lie to a child about who they are.”

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