More Than 30 Major Corporations Join Human Rights Campaign Supreme Court Amicus Brief Stating No Loving Foster Parent Should Face Discrimination in Child Welfare

by Robin Chand

Three teenagers sitting together and smiling

The brief is in reference to the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, joined Steptoe & Johnson in filing an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of more than 30 major U.S. companies supporting the City of Philadelphia’s ability to enforce nondiscrimination laws to ensure foster children have every option for a safe and loving home. In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services claims a constitutional right to exclude prospective foster families headed by LGBTQ couples when providing public child welfare services for purposes of placing children in foster homes. It claims it has a right to do so because it has religious objections to approving the homes of same-sex couples as suitable placements for foster children. The City of Philadelphia maintains that the Constitution is not violated by the City’s decision to refuse to permit discrimination with city funds.

“These corporate giants are speaking to the Court to emphasize the dangers of adopting a rule that would allow social service providers to use government funds to turn away qualified individuals based on the providers’ personal beliefs,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “No governmental entity should be forced to permit discrimination against loving families, especially at a time when more than 400,000 children are in foster care annually around the country and the system is continually in need of more qualified, loving parents. The best interest of children must take precedence over a desire to discriminate in taxpayer-funded child welfare services.”

"In signing this brief, companies across the country are speaking up for equal and fair opportunities for all of their employees and customers, and their families," said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director at Freedom for All Americans, who assisted in recruiting companies for the brief. "Our business allies oppose discrimination in all of its forms, because treating all Americans with dignity and respect is both a core value and crucial to their bottom lines. Business leaders need to know that their team members are able to participate fully in their communities, live their lives safely, and provide for their families, free from discrimination no matter where in the country they call home. We're grateful for their consistent support of nondiscrimination protections and proud they are standing with us."

This case could also have implications for religious refusal in areas far beyond child welfare, including public health care, education, poverty programs, homelessness services, and veterans services, among other social safety net programs. Taxpayer dollars should never be used to permit a broad license to discriminate.

Having built inclusive workplaces for their LGBTQ employees and their LGBTQ dependents, companies have a vested interest in the legal landscape in which those employees and their dependents live, work or choose to grow their families. The 32 amici, coordinated by HRC and Freedom for All Americans, represent over 500,000 employees, a wide variety of industries, and whose collective revenue exceeds $615 billion These companies are:

Airbnb, Inc.; Amalgamated Bank; American Airlines Group; Apple; Atlassian, Inc.; BBVA USA; Biogen; Braze, Inc.; Bristol Myers Squibb; Cummins Inc.; Evolent Health; GlaxoSmithKline LLC; Google LLC; HP Inc.; Ingram Micro Inc.; Levi Strauss & Co.; Macy's, Inc.; New York Life; NIKE; Nixon Peabody LLP; PayPal, Inc.; Replacements, Ltd.; Seyfarth Shaw LLP; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; Sun Life; TechNet; The Knot Worldwide Inc.; Trane Technologies; Twitter, Inc.; ViiV Healthcare Company; Yelp Inc.; and Yext.

Leading American businesses have long expressed a commitment to LGBTQ diversity and inclusion in their workforces as evidenced by inclusive policies, practices and benefits. Businesses realize that inclusivity is not only the right thing to do -- it just makes good business sense, too. Companies that are inclusive of LGBTQ people and employees with LGBTQ family members are able to attract and retain the best and brightest across a wide spectrum of diversity, reap the benefits from increased engagement and productivity, and actively participate in the vibrant LGBTQ consumer marketplace.

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 harm of efforts to write into law anti-LGBTQ discrimination by child welfare agencies. This comprehensive resource continues to be relevant, as legislatures across the country consider anti-LGBTQ bills which 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.

To read the amicus brief filed earlier today, click here.

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