gsn-google gsn-google

This Texas lesbian couple can't foster for not looking like Mary, Jesus and Joseph

'Being denied the opportunity to foster a child because we "don’t 'mirror the Holy Family" is clearly code for being a same-sex couple'

This Texas lesbian couple can't foster for not looking like Mary, Jesus and Joseph
Same sex couple Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin of Texas were denied the right to foster a refugee child on grounds of 'mirroring the holy family' (Photo: Lambda Legal)

A lesbian couple in Texas were denied the right to foster children ‘because they did not mirror the Holy Family’.

Fatima Marouf and Bryn Esplin applied to become foster parents through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM), run by the US federal government.

The couple filed a lawsuit through Lambda Legal against the Department of Heath and Human Services on Tuesday (23 February) in the District of Columbia.

Child holding parent's hand

More children are finding a loving home with same-sex parents (Photo: Flickr/Stephan Hochhaus)

Texas foster families ‘must mirror the holy family’

But as detailed in the lawsuit itself, a federal contractor told the couple in February last year that foster parents in the state ‘must mirror the holy family’.

Subsequently, they were told they would not ‘qualify’ to foster a child.

The Texas law, which went into effect 1 August, extended additional legal protections if the child placement agency rejects couples based on ‘sincerely held religious beliefs.’

Texan law to protect agencies that turn families away due to religion 

Furthermore, the state passed a law giving legal cover to adoption and foster care agencies that cite religion to turn away prospective parents in 2016.

But the law doesn’t apply to Marouf and Esplin’s case, Lambda Legal said.

This is because refugee child foster care is run through the federal, not state, government.

‘Being denied the opportunity to foster a child because we don’t “mirror the Holy Family,” is clearly code for being a same-sex couple, was hurtful and insulting to us,’ Esplin said.

‘Refugee children have been through enough trauma to last a lifetime,’ said Marouf, 41.

‘They need love, stability, and support, which Bryn and I have in abundance.’

‘More than that, though, insisting on such a narrow, religious view of what a family must look like deprives these children of a nurturing, supportive home.’

The Catholic charities of Fort Worth

The complaint focused on statements allegedly made by executives at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth (CCFW).

CCFW told the couple they would not qualify to look after a child under the URM programme.

Lambda Legal said that Marouf emailed the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) on the same day.

The two women reported how they were told they did not ‘mirror the holy family’.

After hearing back two months later, they asked for the names of the officials the two women had spoken with.

They have reportedly heard nothing since.

A spokesperson for CCFW has denied that a representative had any contact with the couple.

CCFW claims the then-director of child welfare services talked to them over the phone.

They also deny that anyone told the Texas couple that none of the 700 children were LGBT.

‘We train our foster families to accept children from all cultures and walks of life so they can be as prepared as possible to welcome someone new into their home, said Katelin Cortney to Dallas Evening News.

Got a news tip? Want to share your story? Email us .