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Tennessee judges dismiss Jewish couple’s suit alleging adoption bias

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP-JONATHAN MATTISE) — A panel of Tennessee judges has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a couple who alleged that a state-sponsored Christian adoption agency refused to help them because they are Jewish.

The lawsuit against the state challenged a 2020 law that installed legal protections for private adoption agencies to reject state-funded placement of children to parents based on religious beliefs.

Much of the criticism of the law had focused on how it allowed adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people. But Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram sued over claims that they were discriminated against because they were Jewish, in violation of their state constitutional rights.

The panel made its 2-1 decision last week to dismiss based on other grounds and did not directly rule on the law’s constitutionality.

In their lawsuit, the couple said the Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville barred them from taking state-mandated foster-parent training and denied them a home-study certification while they attempted to adopt a child from Florida last year.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Mike Osborne is the News Director for WMOT and can be heard on-air daily.