Catholic agency fights for right to exclude same-sex couples from foster care

Their attorney says they were targeted because of their religious beliefs.

Pat Loeb
July 17, 2018 - 12:48 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Attorneys for Philadelphia's Catholic Social Services have appealed a federal ruling that allows the city to halt foster care placements with the agency because of its same-sex couples policy. The outcome could have national implications.

Judge Petrese Tucker ruled Friday that the city did not violate the agency's religious liberty when it halted placements after learning the agency would not place children with same-sex couples. The city, she wrote, has a legitimate interest in ensuring the services it contracts for are open to all.

In the appeal, attorney Lori Windham says the agency was targeted because of its religious beliefs, quoting Mayor Kenney as calling actions by Archbishop Chaput "not Christian" and asking Pope Francis to "kick some [butts] here ...."

"The mayor's criticized them. They've been investigated by the Human Relations Commission. City Council passed a resolution condemning them. So, I think it shows they're under an enormous amount of pressure to change their religious practices," Windham said.

The city declined comment on the appeal. But the stakes are high. Judge Tucker noted that this would be the first legal precedent to address the issue directly, even though similar situations have arisen in Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Illinois.