Nov. 4, the US Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow private agencies that receive taxpayer-funding to provide government services — such as foster care providers, food banks, homeless shelters, and more — to deny services to people who are LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon.
Also Nov. 4, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) and their partners – including The Central Voice - are organizing a Virtual Town Hall, for the important case. The Town Hall will feature a panel of experts to break down the case, the arguments made at the court, potential outcomes, and what we can do between now and #DecisionDay (#DD).
To participate IN THE Town Hall, please register at OurDayinCourt.org.
Jason Landau Goodman, Executive Director, PA Youth Congress, said: “The notion that foster care programs should categorically discriminate against LGBTQ parents is unconscionable. We need more families to support the over 400,000 young people in foster care, not less.:
The programs Goodman is addressing are partially funded by taxpayer dollars.
“The impact of a negative decision in Fulton could result in expansive denials of service within taxpayer-funded programs, such as homeless shelters and food banks. Many LGBTQ people are already vulnerable, and this would make their lives even more difficult if they are refused service by their own government, simply for being LGBTQ. We must ensure public services and programs are accessible at every level to all.”
In March 2018, the city of Philadelphia learned that two of the agencies it hired to provide foster care services to children in the city’s care would not, based on their religious objection, accept same-sex couples as foster parents. Philadelphia informed the agencies that it would no longer refer children to them unless they agreed to comply with nondiscrimination requirements that are part of all foster care agency contracts. One of the agencies agreed to do so. The other, Catholic Social Services (CSS), sued the city, claiming the Constitution gives it the right to opt out of the nondiscrimination requirement.
Philadelphia continues to contract with CSS for other foster care services, including case management services and operating group homes, where CSS is willing to comply with all contract requirements.
The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, representing the Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride, intervened in support of the city.
After the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a lower court decision in Philadelphia’s favor, CSS asked the Supreme Court to hear this case, and the Court granted review. Argument is set for November 4.
In the past, some states had laws banning LGBTQ people from becoming foster or adoptive parents. The last of these was struck down in 2016. As these outright bans were struck down, those opposed to LGBTQ equality have increasingly sought a far-reaching constitutional license to discriminate in the name of religion.
Over 1,000 people joined friend-of-the-court briefs in opposition to this request, including multiple child welfare groups, religious organizations, former foster youth, and nearly half of states and dozens of cities and mayors.