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 Philly.com.
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 Philly.com. “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)