Couples Sue State Foster Care Program After Being Removed For Their Beliefs

( — Two Vermont couples have sued the state after officials from the Vermont Department of Children and Families refused to renew their licenses to take foster children because they oppose the state’s transgender policy.

According to the lawsuit filed on June 4 in the US District Court for the District of Vermont, the plaintiffs—Bryan and Rebecca Gantt, and Brian and Katy Wuoti—allege that the state’s policy to require foster parents to adhere to its new policy on LGBT children is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the couples by Alliance Defending Freedom, claims that the Wuotis and Gantts had been licensed foster parents with the state for years and were in good standing until the licenses were revoked.

The state pulled their licenses after enacting a new policy requiring foster parents to reaffirm the gender identity of so-called “trans” children, including using their preferred pronouns and allowing them to wear clothing that matches their “gender identity.”

According to the complaint, the couples opposed the policy on religious grounds because, as Christians, they believe that a person’s gender is determined at conception and that gender is binary.

The lawsuit argues that requiring the couples to abide by the policy would cause them to “express a message they do not believe” that “contradicts their religious beliefs.”

The complaint asserts that by revoking their licenses as foster parents, the state of Vermont violated their rights to religious freedom and free association, as well as their due process and equal protection rights.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christopher Winters, Family Services Division Deputy Commissioner Aryka Radke, and Director Stacey Edmunds of Residential Licensing and Special Investigations.

In a June 4 news release announcing the lawsuit, Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse, an attorney with Alliance for Defending Freedom, noted that although the foster care system in Vermont did not have enough families to care for the children in the system, the state chose to put an “ideological agenda ahead of the needs of these suffering kids.”

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