Today, HRC responded to the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which could have an enormous impact on the lives of more than 440,000 children in foster care around the country by enabling a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities using taxpayer funds.
“It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Neither Philadelphia nor any other governmental entity should be forced to permit discrimination against loving families, especially at a time when half a million children around the country are in foster care. We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child’s best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities.”
In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services is claiming a constitutional right to exclude prospective foster families headed by same-sex couples when providing public child welfare services. It claims it has a right to do so because of a religious objection to approving LGBTQ families. The City of Philadelphia maintains that no family should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love.
In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released Disregarding the Best Interest of the Child: License to Discriminate In Child Welfare Services, a report detailing the harms of efforts to write anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies into law. The comprehensive resource continues to be relevant as legislatures across the country consider anti-LGBTQ bills that marginalize children and their prospective families of all backgrounds. Earlier this year, Tennessee passed a license to discriminate in child welfare services law, becoming the tenth such state to do so.