A federal court has sided with the city of Philadelphia after they chose to terminate contracts with a Catholic foster care agency because of their views on marriage.
The city, after a cry for help in dealing with its massive foster care problem, refused to allow Catholic Social Services to place children with families because they refused to place them with gay couples. Philadelphia then terminated their contract with the Christian group, putting at risk children who are in foster homes affiliated with the agency. Foster families associated with Catholic Social Services then sued.
FREE BEACON – In Sharonell Fulton, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, the court upheld a city policy that prevents Catholic Social Services from finding families for foster children, according to a press release from Becket Law.
In 2018, the city of Philadelphia made an urgent call for more foster parents to help the “nearly 6,000 children and youth” in foster care in the city. Despite being a top-ranked foster agency, Catholic Social Services was not allowed to place more children with families.
A week after making the call for more foster parents, Philadelphia stopped referring children to Catholic Social Services and then threatened to terminate its contract with the organization if it did not give up its religious beliefs about marriage. Becket notes that no family had ever filed a complaint with Catholic Social Services on account of its Catholic mission, and no child had ever been unable to find a home because of the organization’s beliefs.
Despite the foster care crisis in the city, many families licensed through Catholic Social Services are unable to take in children because of the city’s decision. Furthermore, if the contract is terminated, children already placed with families could be at risk and their foster families could lose needed support.
Sharonell Fulton and other foster parents licensed through Catholic Social Services took the city to court.
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Monday that the city could exclude Catholic Social Services from its foster placement program because the organization would not work with same-sex couples.
Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro said the city was trying to stop what it believed to be a “clear violation” of a city anti-discrimination law.
“The question in our case is … whether CSS was treated differently because of its religious beliefs,” Ambro wrote. “Based on the record before us, that question has a clear answer: no.”
What a ridiculous ruling by Ambro, a Clinton appointee.
The beliefs of Catholic Social Services are not what has changed. Rather it’s the city adopting an unconstitutional anti-discrimination policy and then using that to punish Catholic Social Services because they disagree with CSS’s religious beliefs on marriage.
It’s blatant religious discrimination by the city of Philadelphia, which is unfortunate for many reasons, but especially for the children who have to suffer because CSS isn’t allowed to place them in families.
The attorneys at Becket Law intend to continue fighting this ruling.