This article was published on June 14th, 2020
The Justice Department under the Trump administration has been mired in controversy after controversy, and it is now calling on the United States Supreme Court to allow for adoption agencies with religious affiliations to refuse the placement of children into the homes of LGBTQ members.
The brief recently filed by the Trump team to the Supreme Court argues that a social services agency supported by taxpayer funds should have the right to refuse to cooperate with same-sex couples if it violates the agency’s religious beliefs. The move comes in support of Catholic Social Services, an adoption agency based in Philadelphia that is angling to deny same-sex couples under the 1stAmendment.
Under current laws, barring same-sex couples from adopting is a violation of Philadelphia’s non-discrimination ordinance, but CSS is claiming to be exercising their freedoms of religion and speech, and preventing these are in direct violation of their rights. In a prepared brief, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that the City of Philadelphia “has impermissibly discriminated against religious exercise” by requiring Catholic Social Services to abide by LGBTQ+ non-discrimination practices. Although the United States government is not a party in this particular case, it is well known that the Trump administration has particular interest to intervene as the repercussions could affect adoption rules for same-sex couples around the country. The brief goes into detail about the case:
This case concerns the application of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the City of Philadelphia’s termination of a contract allowing Catholic Social Services to help place children in the City with foster parents, on the basis of Catholic Social Services’ unwillingness to endorse same-sex couples as foster parents.
The case resulted in the City of Philadelphia discovering that in March of 2019, CSS had refused the licensing of same-sex couples despite a contract in place that prohibited agencies from engaging in discrimination against LGBTQ members. Since CSS was hired by the City to provide foster care services to children in child welfare, litigation ensued. Once the City stated its intention to terminate the contract with Catholic Social Services, the organization sued on the grounds that they were within their rights to refuse LGBTQ homes for child placement under religious reasons through the exercising of the 1st Amendment. The suit elaborated:
“The United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of the free exercise of religion. It also has a substantial interest in the enforcement of rules prohibiting discrimination by government contractors.”
The deputy director with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT & HIV Project, Leslie Cooper, summarizes that if Trump and his administration has their way, it will be even more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt, and other issues as well:
“While this case involves rejecting LGBTQ families, if the court accepts the claims made in this case, not only will this hurt children in foster care by reducing the number of families to care for them, but anyone who depends on a wide range of government services will be at risk of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, religion or any other characteristic that fails a provider’s religious litmus test.”
HomoCulture will be closely following this case and the possible ramifications of the ruling.