The federal government is funding organizations that illegally discriminate against LGBTQ candidates so that they can become foster care parents for lonely refugee children, a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleged.

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According to the 29-page complaint, Kelly Easter has twice been turned away from parenting a migrant child in the federal foster care program while living in Nashville, Tennessee.

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The lawsuit alleges that Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services refused to allow Easter to become a foster parent late last year because she is a lesbian. Bethany is the only organization located near Easter participating in the federal program.

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The lawsuit says that months after Easter was turned away, Bethany’s leadership announced in March that it had changed its policy and would now accept applications from LGBTQ families.

But the agency told Easter that he would have to drive half an hour to his office in Smyrna, Tennessee, because the office closer to his Nashville home is under contract with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which would not certify. Same-sex couples as foster parents.

The Catholic bishop receives federal funding to provide foster care services and Bethany receives funding from the Catholic bishop at the Nashville site. Bethany’s Smyrna site is funded through a different source.

“Saddened to be turned away twice – solely because of my identity,” Easter said in a statement. “I’ve been a Christian since I was a little girl and my personal relationship with God is the most important thing to me. I also know that LGBTQ people can have affluent families and they are just as important and deserving as any other.” Huh.”

The lawsuit, which claims violations of the First and Fifth Amendments, named the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement as defendants. The heads of each agency were also named, including HHS Secretary Javier Becerra. The agencies did not immediately respond to email requests for comment on Wednesday.

“By preventing the care and custody of children in the homes of LGBTQ people based on the USCCB’s religious beliefs, the government … denigrates and humiliates LGBTQ children for whom they are responsible, leaving them less worthy and less respected. stigmatize as deserving. Other children,” argues the lawsuit.

In a statement, Bethany’s spokesperson said the organization is “committed to welcoming and serving all individuals and families” and that “no one will be dismissed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“We invite anyone who is interested in providing children with a safe, loving home to contact us and begin the licensing process today,” the organization said.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington DC