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Supreme Court rules for Catholic agency not working with possible same-sex couple foster parents

The city of Philadelphia froze the charity's contract after it said its religious views prevent it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. 

Published: June 17, 2021 10:44am

Updated: June 24, 2021 3:17pm

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday the city of Philadelphia violated a Catholic foster care agency's First Amendment rights when it froze the group's contract for refusing to work with same-sex couples as potential foster parents. 

The agency has said its religious view that marriage should be between a man and a woman prevents it from working with same-sex couples as foster parents. 

Philadelphia's refusal to contract with Catholic Social Services "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 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,” he also wrote, according to the Associated Press

Catholic Social Services is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The case dates back to 2018. The city has said it requires the two dozen-plus foster care agencies with which it works not to discriminate as part of their contracts. The city asked the Catholic agency to change its policy. The city stopped referring children to the agency after the group declined to change its policy, the wire service also reports. 

Prior to the high court ruling, lower courts had sided with Philadelphia in cases filed by the agency.

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