Foster parents in Philadelphia have filed a lawsuit against the city over its new policy banning Catholic Social Services from placing children in foster homes because the city regards their biblical beliefs on same-sex marriage as discriminatory.
In the lawsuit, Sharonell Fulton, et al v. City of Philadelphia, the plaintiffs are demanding that the city stop prohibiting the Christian group from providing social services, specifically placement for foster children, because of their stance on same-sex marriage. Becket, a religious liberty law firm, is representing Fulton and other foster parents.
The city of Philadelphia issued a call in March for 300 new foster families to house the approximately 6,000 children and teenagers who are in the city’s foster care system. That same month the city stopped Catholic Social Services from being able to place children in foster homes due to its so-called non-discrimination policy.
Philadelphia is reportedly threatening to make the move permanent on June 30.
“Foster homes are sitting empty, even as the city begs for more families to help in its foster care crisis,” Becket said in a statement shared with The Christian Post on Thursday.
Sharonell Fulton, a foster mother who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said: “What justice is there in taking stable, loving homes away from children? If the city cuts off Catholic Social Services from foster care, foster moms like me won’t have the help and support they need to care for special-needs kids.”
“I have relied on Catholic Social Services for support for years, and the city is taking away this help and causing harm and heartache to countless families like mine.”
When asked for a response to the lawsuit, the Philadelphia Department of Health Services declined to comment directly, but said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Thursday that they “are genuinely appreciative of the services that Catholic Social Services provides.”
Philadelphia Department of Health Services added that while it appreciates the Catholic organization’s work, it was severing all ties because “those services must be provided in a manner consistent with certain core city principles, including our non-discrimination rules.”
“As Catholic Social Services works on the city’s behalf, we cannot allow discrimination against qualified couples who are ready to take on this important role, simply because of who they are.”
A spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia said in March that they had no plans to change their foster child placement practices when the city stopped them from participating in March, explaining that the agency cannot “provide services in any manner or setting that would violate its institutional integrity, core values, and Catholic beliefs.”
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Source: Christian Post