The Trump administration has just asked the Supreme Court to allow religious-affiliated adoption agencies to refuse adoption to LGBT+ couples.
As the ‘Washington Globe’ reports, In a 35-page brief, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco and other Justice Department attorneys maintain the City of Philadelphia has “impermissibly discriminated against religious exercise” under the First Amendment by requiring Catholic Social Services to abide by a contract requiring LGBT+ non-discrimination practices in child placement.
“Governmental action tainted by hostility to religion fails strict scrutiny almost by definition,” the brief says. “This court has never recognized even a legitimate governmental interest — much less a compelling one — that justifies hostility toward religion.”
“This case concerns the application of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the City of Philadelphia’s termination of a contract allowing Catholic Social Services to help place children in the City with foster parents, on the basis of Catholic Social Services’ unwillingness to endorse same-sex couples as foster parents,” the brief says. “The United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of the free exercise of religion. It also has a substantial interest in the enforcement of rules prohibiting discrimination by government contractors.”
The case opened when in 2018 the City of Philadelphia learned that Catholic Social Services was refusing to license same-sex couples who wished to provide foster care services to children in child welfare, although they had issued a contract prohibiting these agencies from engaging in anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
The framing of the contract by the Justice Departments makes it seem as though the City Of Philadelphia is unfairly targeting Catholic social services, claiming the municipality is allowing for exemptions in some cases, but not religious-affiliated adoption agencies.
“The City impermissibly targeted religious organizations for enforcement of its newly articulated policies,” the brief says. “Commissioner Figueroa testified that, in determining whether foster-care agencies were complying with the anti-discrimination requirements of their contracts, the city focused only on religious agencies, making just a single inquiry to a secular foster-care agency…City officials made no effort to determine whether other secular agencies perform home studies for everyone who requests them, or show preference for or against individuals who fall within particular groups.”
Leslie Cooper, deputy director with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, said in a statement that if this discrimination was to go ahead, the decision would impact more than LGBT+ families.
“While this case involves rejecting LGBTQ families, if the court accepts the claims made in this case, not only will this hurt children in foster care by reducing the number of families to care for them, but anyone who depends on a wide range of government services will be at risk of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, religion or any other characteristic that fails a provider’s religious litmus test,” Cooper said.
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