WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Lambda Legal submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of itself and 26 local, state, and national organizations that serve LGBTQ youth urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold an court ruling denying Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) request that Philadelphia be ordered to contract with the agency despite its anti-LGBTQ policies.
Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance includes a nondiscrimination provision which states that no “[p]roviders [shall] discriminate or permit discrimination against individuals in . . . public accommodation practices whether by direct or indirect practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person on the basis of . . . sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, [or] familiar [sic] status[.]”
CSS sued the city claiming it had a First Amendment right of religious freedom to deny families they say are in violation of their religious beliefs, calling for the city to be forced to contract with them for adoption services. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied CSS’s request in July 2018, as did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in April 2019. CSS then asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling, which it agreed to do in February. Oral argument in the case is scheduled for November 4, 2020.
“The sheer breadth of what CSS is asking from the Supreme Court should trouble everyone concerned about the wellbeing of children in foster care – especially LGBTQ foster children,” said M. Currey Cook, counsel and Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project Director at Lambda Legal. “Allowing foster care agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to foster sends a clear message to LGBTQ youth in care that there’s something unacceptable about who they are and that they aren’t equal under the law. It also exposes them to harm due to lack of family home placements likely to meet their needs.”
“LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care due to increased experience with family rejection and stigma,” said Sam Briton, vice president of advocacy and government affairs for The Trevor Project, one of the groups signing the brief. “A broad religious exemption to youth-serving agencies could have far-reaching and dangerous consequences, including the denial of LGBTQ-affirming health care or the potential subjection of LGBTQ youth to the discredited practice of conversion therapy — both of which are detrimental to LGBTQ youth mental health.”
Joining Lambda Legal and The Trevor Project are two national organizations: CenterLink and The True Colors Fund; Four Pennsylvania organizations: Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; The Mazzoni Center; Pennsylvania Youth Congress; and William Way LGBT Community Center; and 19 local organizations from across the country: Hudson Pride Center (New Jersey); Inside Out Youth Services (Colorado); The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York); LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin; LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada; Lambert House LGBTQ Youth Center (Washington); Louisville Youth Group Inc. (Kentucky); Montrose Center (Texas); One-N-Ten (Arizona); Out Boulder County (Colorado); Pacific Pride Foundation (California); Q Center (Oregon); Resource Center (Texas); Ruth Ellis Center (Michigan); True Colors, Inc. (Connecticut); Sacramento LGBT Community Center (California); San Francisco LGBT Center (California); San Diego LGBT Community Center (California); Source LGBT+ Center (California); and, Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico.
Read the brief here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/fulton_pa_20200820_amicus