Monday, April 22, 2019

Anti-LGBTQ discrimination in foster care, adoption suffers setback in Philadelphia and Michigan

Same-sex families have foster care, adoption victories in Philly and Michigan

Those who feel that faith-based adoption and foster care agencies should have the right to taxpayer dollars while discriminating against the LGBTQ community just received major setbacks in Philadelphia and Michigan.

From The Advocate:

The city of Philadelphia doesn’t have to contract with a foster care agency that discriminates against LGBTQ people, a federal appeals court ruled today.
The Philadelphia Department of Human Services last year ended its contract with Catholic Social Services after the agency refused to change its policy to comply with Philadelphia’s LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination law. The Catholic group will not place children with LGBTQ parents. 
The Catholic agency sued, and last year a federal district court ruled that the city was within its rights to exclude organizations that discriminate. Today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld that decision, saying among other things that the Catholic group’s religious beliefs do not exempt it from the city’s antidiscrimination law, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. 
“The City’s non-discrimination policy is a neutral, generally applicable law, and the religious views of CSS do not entitle it to an exception from that policy. ... [CSS] has failed to make a persuasive showing that the City targeted it for its religious beliefs, or is motivated by ill will against its religion, rather than sincere opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote for the panel. 
The Becket Fund, a conservative legal group that represents Catholic Social Services, is reviewing whether to appeal the Third Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. However, the high court last year denied the Catholic group’s emergency petition to have its contract reinstated.

Also today, Bethany Christian Services, a faith-based foster care and adoption agency in Michigan,  announced that it will begin  working to place children in same-sex homes.  This reversal of policy comes after a legal settlement in March between Michigan and the ACLU after the state was sued by two lesbian couples and a former foster child. The settlement says that faith-based foster care and adoption agencies working with the state cannot use religion as an excuse to turn away members of the LGBTQ community.  Another faith-based foster care and adoption agency, St Vincent Catholic Charities, via a local couple, is challenging the settlement in court.

Last week, South Carolina state legislators turned away a bill which would have allowed faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate while receiving tax dollars. 

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