U.S. Supreme Court Allows Ruling Protecting Prospective LGBTQ Adoptive Parents to StandBy Adam Polaski • August 30, 2018 • 7:47 pm
The Supreme Court has denied a request for an emergency injunction from a foster care agency seeking a license to discriminate against married same-sex couples. The decision from the justices, issued in a one-sentence order, allows a lower court ruling protecting married same-sex couples who wish adopt or foster children to take effect.
The case, Sharonell Fulton et al. v. City of Philadelphia, involves Philadelphia’s decision to terminate a contract with Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, claiming that the agency was discriminating against LGBTQ people and those who don’t “abide by the agency’s teachings.” The lower court ruling, issued last month, allowed Philadelphia to require child welfare agencies with city contracts to follow the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. The July ruling marked the first time a federal court determined that child welfare agencies with government contracts may not turn away same-sex couples.
Ten states have laws on the books that allow child welfare agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ youth and families – Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia. Fives of those laws were passed in 2017 or 2018.
According to data from the Every Child Deserves a Family campaign, more than 21,000 youth were awaiting adoption in states with these discriminatory laws on the books in 2015. Same-sex couples are exponentially more likely to be interested in adopting children or serving as foster parents. Allowing agencies to exclude same-sex couples harms children in the child welfare system and makes it harder for more them to be placed in loving homes
The case also involves the Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride, which intervened in the lawsuit and are represented by the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and Dechert LLP.
A ruling in a similar lawsuit, Dumont v. Lyon, filed by a same-sex couple as a challenge to a law in Michigan that allows child welfare agencies a license to discriminate, is expected soon.