Federal court rules Philadelphia can exclude foster care agency that refuses to work with gay couples

Federal court rules Philadelphia can exclude foster care agency that refuses to work with gay couples

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the city of Philadelphia can exclude a foster care agency that refuses to work with same-sex couples from a program for placing city children with foster families, according to NBC News.

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

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“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, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religions Freedom, which represented the agency in 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 (D) hailed the decision, writing on Twitter that he is "grateful for the Court’s careful analysis and thoughtful decision.”