Once their contract with the Erie County Department of Social Services ends in March, Catholic Charities will be phasing out their adoption and foster care services.

Catholic Charities says it cannot comply with the requirement that contracting agencies allow same-sex couples to foster or adopt children, since they are sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

MORE | Catholic Charities to phase out foster care, adoption services over state’s same-sex adoption rule

95 Catholic Charities staff members signed a letter to Bishop Malone, urging him to reverse the decision to close the adoption and foster care program.

This is what the letter says:

“Dear Bishop Malone,

As employees of Catholic Charities, we make it our daily mission to provide high quality services to the most vulnerable people in our community. Many of us were drawn to work at Catholic Charities precisely because of our faith and because of the organization’s statement of values that emphasize inclusion, diversity and service to all, regardless of their personal characteristics. It came as a shock to us then, when we found out that you had directed senior management to end foster care and adoption services because of the state requirement that those services be non-discriminatory. With so many children in need of loving families, we take our responsibility to find safe and caring homes extremely seriously. It is to that end that we implore you to reverse your decision to mandate excluding same-sex couples from our services, and thereby shutting down our program.

We understand that while the Church teaches that the best family structure for children is to have a married mother and father, that the Church should also agree that alternative family structures are infinitely better than no family structure at all. Indeed many of our adoptive parents to date are unmarried singles (both gay and straight) and unmarried couples. The research is clear that gay parents are good parents. What is not clear is why the church would take the present action to allow more children to go without families rather than recognize a loving family for what it is. It is antithetical to Catholic values to deny a child a loving home when one is available. The Church could choose to recognize this, comply with state law, and still remain true to its beliefs.

As social workers, teachers, counselors, therapists and other professionals, the ethics of our profession demand that we act without prejudice and in the best interests of our clients. We do so today on their behalf by reminding you that across this organization our LGBTQ clients are not the only ones harmed by this choice. We have employees who are LGBTQ as well, as are our friends, neighbors, children, parents, relatives and siblings. In a world where being different means being in danger, we ask you to recognize the message that is sent by this decision: we are different, we are not welcome; we are not equal. We the undersigned wholeheartedly reject that message and the decision that it led to. We have dedicated ourselves to ensuring that the most vulnerable among us, today our LGBTQ clients and friends, can enjoy “meaningful, healthy, and productive lives.” To that end we will continue to advocate for full LGBTQ rights and inclusion at Catholic Charities. While we do not expect, nor are we asking, for you to go against official teachings of the church, we do believe that there is a choice to be made that can both acknowledge the law and affirm the Catholic faith. We the undersigned ask that you reverse the decision to end the foster care and adoption program. We choose the side of love, and ask for you to do the same. It is both within your power and your religion.”