A legally married Texas same-sex couple, both Texas A&M professors, are suing the federal government over laws that allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay families, on the argument that same sex marriage violates their religious liberty, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Jamie Gliksberg, an attorney with Lambda Legal, which supports LGBTQ issues, says when Fatma Marous and Bryn Esplin went to Catholic Charities to try to take in an orphaned refugee child from the Middle East, they were told that Catholic Charities follows its policy of only placing children with families 'that mirror the Holy Family,' a way of saying that same sex couples were not welcome.
Gliksberg says since Catholic Charities receives federal funding for its refugee adoption efforts, it is not allowed to discriminate against legally married couples.
"One of our most cherished rights, the freedom of religion, is being turned into a weapon to discriminate against LGBT people," she said.
Since the Obergefell ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015, faith groups have been fighting to delegitimize same sex marriage by making claims that people whose 'sincere religious beliefs' hold that gay marriage is wrong should not be required to recognize it.
Vendors like cake bakers and florists have claimed that they should not have to participate in same sex marriages because doing do would violate their religious liberties. A court in Texas recently ruled that the City of Houston can be blocked from providing benefits to the same sex partners of city employees.
LGBT advocates say this is part of a strategy by opponents of same sex marriage to 'delegitimize it' and make it a 'second class' form of marriage.
Gliksberg says this argument cuts both ways when it comes to faith based organizations which receive federal funding."The government cannot favor one set of religious values over others," she said.
She says there are no scientific reasons why married same sex couples cannot raise children.
"The scientific community has reached consensus that children reared by lesbian or gay parents are just as likely to be well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents," the lawsuit claims.
Gliksberg says Catholic Charities' decision not only discriminates against the same sex couple which wanted to adopt a child, but also against the religion of the child.
The lawsuit comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule this spring on whether private companies can refuse to do business with same sex marriages due to their religious beliefs.