Pennsylvania Judge Rules Religious Adoption Agency Should Not Exclude Gay Parents

A federal judge from Pennsylvania decided that a religious organization should not refuse to place foster children with gay families.

NBC News revealed that Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that the city has the right to require the foster and adoption agencies to follow the city's nondiscrimination policies.

This is a groundbreaking decision since it was the first time that a federal court released a ruling that foster and adoption agencies should not turn down the application of same-sex couples who cannot meet the agencies' religious guidelines.

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Judge Tucker came up with the ruling for the case between Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS) and Catholic Social Services.

DHS learned that Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services, two of the foster care agencies that were affiliated with the city, implements policies that refuse to spend their publicly funded services to couples with the same sex.

After learning about the policies of these agencies, DHS decided to stop working with them. This prompted the Catholic Social Services as well as three foster families to file a lawsuit against the city because they claimed that the suspension of referral of new foster children under their care violated both their religious and free speech rights.

However, Judge Tucker's ruling that was released Friday stated that they learned that the guidelines used by the Catholic Social Services violated the city's Fair Practices Ordinance that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well as gender identity. This means that the agency was not eligible to continue receiving public funds.

The federal judge also ruled that the city of Philadelphia and DHS has a "legitimate interest" in making sure that public services can be availed by all residents of the city, and "the pool of foster parents and resource caregivers is as diverse and broad as the children in need."

However, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's senior counsel Lori Windham questioned the ruling and vowed to fight Judge Tucker's decision.

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