Catholic adoption agency refusing to work with same-sex couples supported by Supreme Court, Attorney General Marshall

Cari Searcy, Khaya Searcy, Kim McKeand_83798

FILE – In this May 4, 2006, file photo, Cari Searcy, left, and Kim McKeand pose for a portrait with their son Khaya in Mobile, Ala. Alabama became the latest state to see its ban on gay marriage fall to a federal court ruling Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, as the issue of same-sex marriage heads […]

UPDATE: BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement today commending the court’s siding with the Catholic agency refusing to work with same-sex couples in the adoption process.

“Faith-based groups such as Catholic Social Services have long provided invaluable care for poor and abandoned children and, accordingly, are often partnered with government to fulfill this vital community service,” Marshall explained. “However, government does not have legal grounds to require foster care groups to set aside their religious beliefs in order to participate in the foster care system. Today, the Supreme Court said such actions by the City of Philadelphia violate the group’s First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.”

The decisions comes after Pennsylvania courts ruled against the Catholic agency and for the state, allowing the state government to cease collaboration with the agency. Alabama stood in support of the agency along with 12 other states calling for the overturning of the state case.

“Alabama and 12 other states filed an amicus brief in Fulton v. Philadelphia in support of Catholic Social Services after the City of Philadelphia excluded the faith-based child placement organization from the city’s foster care program because the group follows its religious beliefs,” said Marshall.

The brief states that the “City of Philadelphia acted with anti-religious animus”, and Marshall hails the supreme court’s decision as a “victory” for religious groups:

“The Supreme Court decision is yet another victory by faith-based groups to protect their right to practice their religious beliefs.  Freedom of religion is increasingly under assault in our country and every legal battle to protect our First Amendment rights is critical.”

ORIGINAL: WASHINGTON (AP) — On Thursday the Supreme Court unanimously sided with a Catholic foster care agency that says its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. The justices said the city of Philadelphia wrongly limited its relationship with the group as a result of the agency’s policy.

Philadelphia violated the Constitution in limiting its work with the agency, Catholic Social Services, the court said.

“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Roberts said that the group “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

Catholic Social Services is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia learned in 2018 from a newspaper reporter that the agency would not certify same-sex couples to become foster parents. The city has said it requires that the two dozen-plus foster care agencies it works with not to discriminate as part of their contracts. The city asked the Catholic agency to change its policy, but the group declined. As a result, Philadelphia stopped referring additional children to the agency.

Catholic Social Services sued, but lower courts sided with Philadelphia.

There is no record that any same-sex couple has ever asked to work with the agency. In such a case, the couple would be referred to a different group, Catholic Social Services has said. Because of its beliefs, the Catholic agency also does not certify unmarried couples.

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