ACLU defends LGBT foster parents in Philadelphia court
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) managed to score a victory when a Philadelphia federal court ruled that the religious right can’t discriminate against LGBT foster parents.
Specifically, the court ruled that a religious agency can’t take taxpayer funds while denying same-sex parents from adopting children because of their religious objections.
LGBT foster parents: Same rights as straight parents
The court’s decision is on the move by Catholic Social Services’ refusal to serve same-sex adoptive and foster parents and override accepted child welfare placement standards on religious grounds.
This first of a kind ruling by US District Judge Petrese B. Tucker said that the adoption agency cannot accept taxpayer funds if they do this.
James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, said the city of Philadelphia had refused to allow the Catholic Social Services agency to place children because it was refusing to comply with the city’s nondiscrimination requirement.
“Catholic Social Services sued, arguing that it has a constitutional right to deny children good families based on religious objections to those families,” Esseks pointed out.
The court said that the Department of Human Services and Philadelphia “have a legitimate interest in ensuring that when they employ contractors to provide governmental services, the services are accessible to all Philadelphians who are qualified for the services.”
The court further noted that “discrimination is not simply dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies; it is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when he is told that he is unacceptable as a member of the public because of his race or color.”
LGBT foster parents: The new enemies of religious right
Esseks noted that nearly 118,000 children are awaiting adoption in the United States.
However, he pointed out that some religious conservatives are pushing their “religious beliefs ahead of the best interests of children in the state’s care.”
Esseks said that these people “don’t want to place children with married same-sex couples, people with different faiths, or others who fail a religious litmus test, even when that placement is clearly in the best interest of the children.”
“The disputes are the latest battleground in the ongoing effort by some religious conservatives to license discrimination in the name of religion,” he said.
“Overbroad religious exemptions harm kids, LGBT people, women, people of minority faiths, and many others in our society,” he warned.
There is a similar dispute in Michigan now, with a lesbian couple, Kristy and Dana Dumont, being turned away by two placement agencies. A federal trial court in Detroit is hearing oral arguments now.