One of the nation's largest adoption and foster care agencies has announced it will be expanding its services to LGBT parents.
Bethany, a evangelical adoption agency based in Michigan, told staff last week that it would be allowing LGBT parents to adopt through its agency, effective immediately.
"We will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today," Bethany's President and CEO Chris Palusky wrote in an email to staff. "We're taking an ‘all hands on deck' approach where all are welcome."
Openly gay foster and adopting parents were previously referred to other agencies, although doing so was not an official policy at the organization. This is also not the first time Bethany will begin working with LGBT couples. Although this policy change will be company-wide, branches in 12 states had already been working with LGBT families.
The move comes as legal battles over whether a faith-based organization should be forced to offer adoption services to LGBT couples increase.
Bethany's changed stance has received mixed reactions.
"To use a Christian term, this is good news," said Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, a fellow with the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress. "...For too long the public witness of Christianity has been anti-this or anti-that. Today the focus is on serving children in need."
Others, however, were not pleased.
"I am disappointed in this decision, as are many," Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement on Monday. "This move will harm already existing efforts to enable faith-based orphan care ministries to serve the vulnerable without capitulating on core Christian convictions."