U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Adoption Service Cannot Discriminate Against LGBT Parents

A recent decision out of federal Eastern District of Pennsylvania explains that a religious family services organization in Philadelphia cannot discriminate against prospective parents based on sexual orientation.

The case was filed by an organization called Catholic Social Services, challenging the City of Philadelphia's denial of that organization's placement of children. The organization asserted that it has a right to deny placement of children into homes that violate its religious beliefs. However, the court found that no such right existed and that the city's application of its non-discrimination laws was proper.

Pious to a Fault

The facts of this case are rather curious. CSS and other religious family services organizations in the area did not even bother hiding the fact that they would not adopt to, or approve for fostering, same-sex couples. Despite being directly told that the organization was discriminating and violating the law by DHS, CSS responded (or "non-responded") by explaining that the organization followed Catholic teachings.

Although CSS attempted to cite the harm done to the community and system as a result of their being denied the right to place children, the organization seems to curiously ignore the fact that they could have simply changed their policies.

As the court went to great lengths to explain, no private organization is vested with an unalienable right to place children in foster care or for adoption. That a religious family services organization is allowed to do so is out of convenience to the state. The court clearly explained that there is no merit to CSS's argument about the community being harmed.

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