Daily Beast writer Jay Michaelson accurately breaks down Monday's announcement that the Supreme Court will hear a case which could potentially allow religiously based adoption agencies to receive tax dollars while turning away same-sex couples wanting to be parents.
Michaelson said the case is less about religious liberty and more about sending an ugly message to same-sex couples and the LGBTQ community in general:
The case it took today, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, is straightforward on its facts. In March,2018, the city of Philadelphia stopped working with Catholic Social Services (CSS) because of that organization’s refusal to place foster children with qualified same-sex couples.
. . . the real power behind the case is Becket, formerly known as The Becket Fund, a hard-right activist group that has spearheaded several “religious liberty” cases, including Hobby Lobby, which eventually enabled corporations to deny contraceptive coverage to employees if doing so violated the company’s religious beliefs.
. . .With Fulton, the Supreme Court is poised to require cities and states to provide such waivers as well, effectively forcing all localities in the country to fund anti-gay discrimination with taxpayer dollars.
You read that right. Five years ago, it was dubious whether cities or states could allow anti-gay discrimination. Now, the Court may say that that they must allow it.
What’s more, none of this supposed conflict between religious freedom and LGBTQ rights is even necessary.
First, of course, religious CWAs could simply decline to take taxpayer money. That’s what happened in Massachusetts in 2004, when Catholic Charities withdrew from providing adoption and foster programs in Massachusetts rather than place children with same-sex couples. The world survived: Massachusetts contracted with non-discriminatory agencies, and Catholic Charities simply stopped taking public money.
Or, of course, religious CWAs could obey the secular law, as Jesus required. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) In other words, obey the same laws as everyone else.
. . . But of course, Becket and organizations like it aren’t really fighting for religious liberty. They’re fighting for religious hegemony; they want LGBTQ and women’s rights to be less equal than, say, civil rights. (No one is arguing that taxpayers should fund an agency that discriminates on the basis of race, after all—although conservatives argued exactly that in the '70s.)
They want a world in which my husband and I may be legally married but still not equal to legally married straight couples. A world in which we can be denied service, denied rights, and denied equality. A world in which we are second-class citizens.
There is absolutely no conceivable way that SCOTUS should rule against the city of Philadelphia. But, as Michaelson broke down in his column, the parties hoping for a ruling against the city have worked hard to bring it to this point. Not because of any logic, but because of their desire to enshrine homophobia and right-wing evangelical supremacy into law.
But mark my words. A ruling that religious-based entities have a "right" to LGBTQ tax dollars while discriminating against LGBTQ people would be one of the biggest travesties in the history of the American judicial system.