Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

Photo of Chris and his daughter with text that reads, "If I'm capable of taking care of your sick kid, I should be able to take care of any other."
Photo of Corina at pride with text that says, "77% of Americans, like Corina, oppose allowing taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to turn away LGBTQ+ parents."
Photo of Katie with text that says, "There are more than 425,000 children in foster care. Yet, Katie has seen a number of qualified prospective parents be turned away because they are LGBTQ+."
Lois, like a majority of people in almost every major religion, opposes allowing taxpayer-funded adoption & foster care agencies to turn away LGBTQ+ parents.
Weston’s adoptive dads saved his life. But many adoption and foster care agencies still turn away qualified LGBTQ+ parents like his.
LaTasha is a social worker. She’s seen  firsthand that religiously-affiliated agencies can abide by nondiscrimination protections without compromising their faith values.

As the Supreme Court inches closer to a decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, we asked LGBTQ+ parents, people of faith, child welfare experts, and youth in foster care across the country: Should we allow government-funded agencies to discriminate based on their religious beliefs?

This is what they said.

“If I’m capable of taking care of your sick kid, I should be able to take care of any other.”

Many adoption agencies turned away Chris, a pediatrician, because he was a single gay man. In fact, it took two years and a lot of perseverance to adopt his now 18-year-old daughter.

“I knew God loved my child, and every gay person out there.”

When social worker Corina signed a statement of faith to work at a religious foster care agency, she never thought she would be co-signing discrimination against her own daughter.

“We don’t have enough families for kids.”

In the 20 years Katie has worked as a social worker, she’s seen a number of LGBTQ+ families turned away. She’s also witnessed the harm this discrimination puts on the children in care.

“You cannot have federal dollars to use to discriminate.” 

Lois worked for Catholic Social Services for 30 years. Now, she is one of the 77% of Americans who believe that if taxpayer-funded agencies opt-out of nondiscrimination rules, children will pay the price. 

“We’re putting youth in situations where they’re at risk.” 

Weston’s adoptive dads, Eric and Lewis, saved his life. Now, he’s sharing how nondiscrimination protections can ensure that every child has a loving, affirming family. 

“How are we going to protect children and families?” 

Social worker LaTasha has seen firsthand that religious adoption and foster care agencies can embrace nondiscrimination requirements without compromising their faith based values. 

What is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia?

There is a major lack of nationwide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. This means that often, local and state provisions are the only thing protecting LGBTQ+ citizens from discrimination. Fulton v. City of Philadelphia came before the Supreme Court after Catholic Social Services (“CSS”), a faith-based foster care agency, refused to license same-sex couples as foster parents, despite the nondiscrimination provision in Philadelphia’s contract. When the city told CSS it would not renew its contract if CSS didn’t comply with the nondiscrimination requirement, CSS sued the city. CSS claimed the nondiscrimination requirement violated their agency’s free exercise of religion. 

CSS voluntarily entered into this contract. And, they are paid taxpayer dollars to care for and provide homes for children the state has removed from their parents or guardians. 

The stories of social workers, people of faith, LGBTQ+ parents, and youth with experience in foster care make one thing clear: If the Court allows agencies like CSS to “opt-out” of contractual requirements, children will pay the price. Such a decision could also allow discrimination at other government-funded agencies, like food banks, homeless shelters, and more.

There are more than 400,000 youth in care, and more than 20,000 of those young people age out of care each year without being reunified with their families or finding a permanent, loving adoptive home. We simply cannot afford to turn away qualified, loving families because they do not meet an agency’s religious criteria. Learn more about what’s at stake in this case here.

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Stand with the stories of the social workers, people of faith, LGBTQ+ parents, and youth you listened to above. If you believe in opening more homes to the 425,000 youth in care who need them, take our pledge today!