LGBTQ Nondiscrimination & Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

The Case: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

This term, the Supreme Court will hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case that could have a profound impact on the lives of the more than the 440,000 children in foster care across the country.

Catholic Social Services, a taxpayer-funded foster care agency in Philadelphia, claims 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 it has a religious objection to approving these families.

Fulton could have enormous repercussions. Catholic Social Services is asking the Supreme Court to require this exemption—a decision that could implement a broad right to discriminate in our nation’s foster system and beyond. A wide range of taxpayer-funded services, like food banks, homeless shelters and disaster relief services, could be affected.

Read more about Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in our litigation tracker.

Why Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Matters

Nearly half a million kids nationwide are in the foster care system, and these children are at risk of homelessness, poverty, and incarceration if they don’t get placed in a loving home before they age out of the system.

At the same time, we have thousands of loving, caring, responsible LGBTQ future foster parents willing to take those children in. It’s dangerous and harmful for foster agencies to prioritize discrimination ahead of the needs of the children they serve, children who are in desperate need of placement with loving families.

While the specifics of the Fulton case involve foster care services and LGBTQ prospective parents, the stakes in the case are broader. A loss would result in taxpayer-funded child welfare services agencies like Catholic Social Services having a right to discriminate against children in government care when providing foster care services on behalf of cities or states using taxpayer dollars.

And such a license to discriminate could go far beyond foster care services. A ruling in this case for Catholic Social Services could also apply to food banks, homeless shelters, disaster relief services and other taxpayer-funded services—creating a broad license to discriminate.

Of course we respect religious freedom as protected by the Constitution, but when agencies choose to accept Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars to provide care to vulnerable children in the foster care system, the needs of those children MUST come first.

News & Updates

The Supreme Court could soon implement a broad right to discriminate.

By Megan Clayton • August 20, 2020, 4:22 pm Fulton v. City of Philadelphia will impact the lives of nearly half a million foster children. Thousands of conservatives, businesses and community leaders are speaking out.

1000+ Experts Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Nondiscrimination Protections

By Angela Dallara • August 20, 2020, 3:50 pm More than 1,000 faith leaders, mayors and local governments, child welfare experts, and others in nearly 50 friend-of-the-court briefs urge Supreme Court justices not to allow discrimination in taxpayer-funded government services.

IN THE NEWS: Alaska legislators, Congress need to provide LGBTQ protections

By Communications Team • July 6, 2020, 12:22 pm An oped by Rina Kowalski, a proud Indigenous LGBTQ2+ Activist, the founder of Indigenous Lives Matter and Mother of two who lives in Fairbanks.

The Last Five Years: Marriage Equality, Other Milestones, and The Ones We Have Yet to Pass

By Shane Stahl • June 26, 2020, 10:06 am Five years ago today, marriage equality became the law of the land when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges—a watershed moment in American history. Read our reflection on this anniversary—and the work still to be done to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

A historic decision just came down from the Supreme Court. Here’s what it means for LGBTQ freedom:

By Megan Clayton • June 16, 2020, 10:20 am This is big. It’s a watershed moment for our community, and for our nation’s continued drive toward freedom. But we still need to finish the job of protecting every LGBTQ American from discrimination.

A Broad Coalition Is Opposing a License to Discriminate at the Supreme Court