September 2018 Chuch & State Magazine - September 2018

Philadelphia Can Require Non-Discrimination In Adoption

  Rokia Hassanein

A federal judge has ruled that religious adoption agen­cies must abide by Philadelphia’s non-discrimination laws, dismissing a discrimination complaint by agencies that wanted to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ foster parents.

Two adoption agencies, Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services, accused officials at the Depart­ment of Human Services of religious discrimination be­cause the city enforced its non-discrimination laws, which prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people.

U.S. District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled July 13 that the city’s policy did not violate the religious-freedom rights of Catholic Social Services. Tucker said the Depart­ment of Human Services had a legitimate interest in en­suring “that the pool of foster parents and resource caregivers is as diverse and broad as the children in need of foster parents,” reported the news site

Catholic Social Services later asked an appeals court to issue an injunction putting the ruling on hold, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused the request. 

The discrimination policy caused real harm. Megan Paszko and her wife were told by Bethany Christian Services that they can’t foster from them because they’re a same-sex couple.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Paszko told “There are so many kids out there who need homes, you’re really go­ing to deny them a good one?”  (Fulton v. City of Phila­del­phia)

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

Act Now