Federal Court Rules Philadelphia Can Refuse Foster Care Agency that Rejects Working with Gay Couples

Philadelphia Can Refuse Foster CareUpdated: 4/22/19 7:56 p.m.

On Monday, a federal court appeal ruled that the city of Philadelphia can now exclude any foster care agency refusing to work with same-sex couples from a program for placing city children with foster families.

The Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that many of the Catholic Social Services had not demonstrated religious persecution or bias in the placement freeze, with Thomas Ambro, a Circuit Judge claiming that the city was acting against what it perceived as a violation of its anti-discrimination laws.

“The question in our case is … whether CSS was treated differently because of its religious beliefs,” Ambro wrote, according to NBC. “Based on the record before us, that question has a clear answer: no.”

“This ruling is devastating to the hundreds of foster children who have been waiting for a family and to the dozens of parents working with Catholic Social Services who have been waiting to foster a child,” said Lori Windham, a senior council member at the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, which has represented the agency during the case. “We’re disappointed that the court decided to let the city place politics above the needs of kids and the rights of parents, but we will continue this fight.”

Mayor Jim Kenney took to Twitter to write that he is “grateful for the Court’s careful analysis and thoughtful decision.”