New lawsuit to be filed challenging public funding of religious organization; charges Methodist Children's Home with using tax dollars to discriminate in employment and to indoctrinate foster youth in religion

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July 31, 2002

WHAT: Press conference to announce filing of lawsuit, Bellmore v. United Methodist Children's Home and Department of Human Resources of Georgia

WHY: Despite receiving a substantial portion of its budget from the State of Georgia, the United Methodist Children's Home in Decatur is engaging in blatant religious discrimination in employment. It also requires its staff to provide services to lesbian and gay youth, and other youth, based on its religious beliefs rather than sound professional practices. Seven Georgia taxpayers, including a lesbian youth counselor and a Jewish psychotherapist who were denied the right to work at the Home, are filing a lawsuit to stop Georgia from funding the Home while it continues to discriminate and uses tax dollars to force its religious beliefs onto youth in its care. The case will become the latest controversy in the national debate over public funding of religious organizations.

WHO: Speakers at press conference and other plaintiffs include the following:

  • Aimee Bellmore, youth counselor fired because she is a lesbian
  • Alan Yorker, psychotherapist, rejected for employment because he is Jewish
  • Stephanie Swann, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Georgia School for Social Work; founder, YouthPride, Inc., Atlanta
  • Susan Sommer, supervising attorney, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund
  • Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Congregation Bet Haverim, Decatur
  • Thomas Morton, president, Child Welfare Institute, Duluth, GA
  • The Very Reverend Harry Pritchett, rector emeritus, All Saints Episcopal Church, Atlanta
  • Gloria Rutherford, mother of gay youth and PFLAG member

WHERE: Lamba Legal Southern Regional Office, 1447 Peachtree Street, NE, 3rd Floor, Atlanta

WHEN: Thursday, August 1st at 10:00 am

Contact: In New York: Geoffrey Knox: 212-229-0540
In Atlanta: Stephen Scarborough: 404-897-1880



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