Federal Judge rules against agency denying same-sex couples
Catholic Social Services, a faith-based organization that says it is committed to improving the quality of life of people of all faiths and backgrounds, sued the city of Philadelphia on the grounds that the city was violating its right to religious liberty by the suspension of their contract with the city based on the fact that they would not work with same-sex couples.
Not allowing children to be adopted into loving homes based on the sexual orientation of their parents does not seem to align with the vision Catholic Social Services shares on its website.
“Catholic Social Services exists to transform lives and bring about a just and compassionate society where every individual is valued, families are healthy and strong, and communities are united in their commitment to the good of all,” the organization shares. “We envision a world touched by God´s mercy: where poverty and need are alleviated, and all people share justly in the blessings of creation.”
CSS argues that it is not a public agency and therefore are not held to Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination legislation.
“CSS had admitted to Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) that it discriminated against same-sex couples in two ways,” shares ThinkProgress. “It would not certify same-sex couples as prospective foster parents, even if they were otherwise eligible under state regulations. It also would refuse to conduct a home study for a same-sex couple applying to be adoptive parents. Incidentally, CSS would provide a home study for an individual looking to adopt, but only if that person was committed to living single.”
Based on Friday’s Federal Court ruling though, CSS will need to stop their discrimination.
U.S. District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker found that the city did not violate the religious liberties of Catholic Social Services (CSS) when it suspended its contract with the agency for foster-care services after discovering that the agency would not work with same-sex couples. Tucker stated, “that the pool of foster parents and resource caregivers is as diverse and broad as the children in need of foster parents,” and that CSS was violating Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance.
Tucker also disapproved of the “clergy letter” that CSS requires. In the testimony of James Amato, CSS Secretary and Executive Vice President, he shared that CSS refuses foster parents who do not provide a “clergy letter” from a minister of any denomination. The letter is an absolute must, ruling out those who are not religious and those who do not practice religion with a minster.
A few exceptions were made with the ruling including that children who had already been placed by CSS would not be removed from their placements and that Philadelphia would still support CSS placing children in homes where their sibling was already been placed.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the anti-LGBTQ+ Christian law firm representing CSS is planning to appeal the ruling.
Several foster families & a foster agency will appeal a ruling today by the Philadelphia district court that allows a harmful new City policy to target religious foster care agencies & keeps foster children from loving homes. Becket’s Lori Windham reacts ⇩ #KidsRightsNotFights pic.twitter.com/14mZeHvFBM
— BECKET (@BecketLaw) July 13, 2018