Appeals Court Rules Philadelphia Can Force Faith-Based Foster and Adoption Agencies to Place Children With Same-sex Parents

Sharonell Fulton enjoys time in the garden with one of her foster children. | Becket

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the city of Philadelphia after it was sued for requiring that faith-based foster and adoption care agencies place children with same-sex parents.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 on Monday against Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and three individuals who served as foster parents with CSS.

The agency was one of two faith-based agencies that worked with the city to place foster children who had policies prohibiting the placement of children with same-sex couples.

But last year, the city government moved to force faith-based adoption and foster agencies with limitations on same-sex placement to change their policies to comply with the city’s nondiscrimination laws protecting on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or halt their adoption and foster programs.

While the other agency, Bethany Christian Services of Greater Delaware Valley, ultimately changed its policy to be able to continue working with the city, CSS refused to alter its policy, believing that it goes against Catholic teachings.

As a result, Philadelphia no longer works with CSS despite the fact that the city government put out an “urgent call” last year because of a shortage of foster parents.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Sharonell Fulton, who has fostered more than 40 children in 26 years with CSS. Fulton argues that the city’s decision effectively took “loving homes” away from children that needed them.

The lawsuit makes the argument that the city’s policy violates the First Amendment protection on freedom of religion.

“As a single mom and woman of color, I’ve known a thing or two about discrimination over the years,” Fulton argued in an op-ed. “But I have never known vindictive religious discrimination like this, and I feel the fresh sting of bias watching my faith publicly derided by Philadelphia’s politicians.”

The case was appealed to the Third Circuit after a federal district judge ruled in favor of the city last year.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith