Just one day after the presidential election, the US Supreme Court will determine whether a publicly-funding social service agency have a right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Their landmark ruling will affect the LGBTQ+ community across the entire nation. Read on for the full story.
Supreme Court Set to Make Landmark Same-Sex Couples’ Rights Decision One Day After Election
The US Supreme Court set a November 4th date for arguments in the landmark Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case. Their decision will determine whether foster care agencies funded by tax-payer dollars have a right to discriminate against same-sex couples. Catholic Social Services (CSS) of Philadelphia claims that the First Amendment protects their rights to turn away gay couples. They assert that they should be permitted to exercise this right without losing public funding.
The city of Philadelphia and CSS have been battling over this issue since 2018. The city stopped referring children to the agency after discovering their discriminatory policy barring same-sex couples from becoming foster parents. CSS argues that Philadelphia is, in turn, discriminating against their rights to religious freedom. After lower courts rejected their argument, the agency opted to take it to the nation’s highest court.
LGBTQ+ rights advocates warn that this case not only determines the fate of gay couples who wish to adopt through Catholic Social Services, but the rights of couples throughout the nation. Thousands of advocates, law professionals, and other experts have weighed in. Recently, the New York State bar association filed an amicus brief supporting the LGBTQ+ community, claiming that the case could have a major impact on New York foster children.
Since US Supreme Court rulings set precedents throughout the entire US justice system, its decision will affect same-sex couples far beyond the City of Brotherly Love. Should the court rule in favor of CSS, it will establish that religious freedom overrides any and all anti-discrimination laws.
The Trump administration has, not surprisingly, sided with CSS. Their own brief argues that the agency shouldn’t be punished for adhering to their “belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.” The Department of Justice claims that Philadelphia’s actions“ reflect unconstitutional hostility toward Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs.”
Philadelphia’s claim, on the other hand, states:
The constitution does not entitle CSS to perform those services on the city’s behalf, with city funds, pursuant to a city contract, in a manner that the city has determined would be harmful to its residents and the thousands of children it has a duty to protect.
Right now, there are more foster children than their are potential families for them. Many age out of the system after living in group homes separated from their siblings. ACLU’s Leslie Cooper previously weighed in on the case, saying:
““Prospective foster and adoptive parents should be judged by their capacity to provide love and support to a child, not the religious views of a tax-funded agency. Religious liberty is one of our most fundamental freedoms, and it protects all of us from government interference in whether, when, and how we practice our faith. It does not entitle taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to impose their own religious eligibility criteria on important government programs.
She concluded by reiterating that nothing in the US Constitution “puts the religious beliefs of these agencies ahead of the needs of the children in their care.”