Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case concerns whether a religious foster care agency can refuse to work with same-sex couples in violation of the nondiscrimination provisions of a contract into which it voluntarily entered and received taxpayer funds to carry out.
Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans, the bipartisan campaign to secure LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections nationwide, released the following statement:
“Freedom of religion is important to all of us; it’s one of our nation’s fundamental values. But city contractors – religious or not – shouldn’t be able to unilaterally change the terms of contracts they’ve voluntarily entered into or to dictate how the government should serve the public or spend its funds. This is what the agency in the Fulton case seeks and, were it to succeed, there is no knowing where this rationale would stop. Religious agencies could claim a right to ignore health and safety regulations at food banks, in homeless shelters, and in other areas, simply based on the beliefs of their religion. This defies common sense and sound public policy. The Supreme Court should not create such a breathtaking change in precedent with such dangerous consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.”
In August, more than 2,000 faith leaders and clergy, mayors and local governments, child welfare experts, and others filed nearly 50 friend-of-the-court briefs on the side of the city of Philadelphia, opposing broad religious exemptions to the child welfare agency in this case. The outcome of the case could have broad implications for the application of nondiscrimination laws around the country, as well as for the ability of local governments to enforce critical local regulations relating to public health and welfare that keep people safe and healthy. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the spring.