The Look in Brief

Appeals Court clears the way to allow Jewish couple to sue Tennessee for discriminatory adoption law

By: - September 7, 2023 6:00 am
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

An East Tennessee Jewish couple can move forward with their lawsuit challenging a discriminatory adoption law passed by state lawmakers in 2020.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed a three-judge panel ruling that determined Elizabeth and Gabriel Rutan-Ram did not have standing to sue the Department of Children’s Services.

In January 2021, the couple was interested in fostering and adopting a child, but state law requires the parents to undergo training from a licensed group.

The Rutan-Rams contacted Holston United Methodist Home for Children for help. The private Christian organization declined to train them because the couple’s Judaism conflicted with the organization’s religious beliefs.

State lawmakers passed legislation in 2020 exempting foster and adopting groups from having to provide training to couples that conflicted with their “religious or moral convictions.” Lawmakers brought forward the law as a way to discriminate against same-sex couples looking to adopt.

The appeals court ruled because Holston United Methodist received funds from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, the couple had the right to file a lawsuit against the state.

The appeals court did not rule on the law’s constitutionality but sent it back to the three-judge panel for a decision.

Tennessee Court of Appeals decision

Majority Opinion - M2022-00998-COA-R3-CV




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Adam Friedman
Adam Friedman

Adam Friedman is a reporter with the Tennessee Lookout. He has a particular love for data and using numbers to explain all kinds of topics. If you have a story idea, he'd love to hear it. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 615-249-8509.