The Trump Administration has filed a new law brief with the Supreme Court. In it, the administration argues that adoption agencies should have a right to refuse to home children with same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
The debate rose out of the City of Philadelphia, where the city itself had a contract with Catholic Social Services to help place needy children in foster and adoptive care. The city terminated its contract with CSS in 2018 when the agency refused to place any of its children with same-sex couples, citing a city law that requires nondiscrimination by all agencies contracting with the city government. CSS claimed it would not abide by the regulation, citing religious exemption.
CSS ultimately sued the City of Philadelphia over the issue in 2018, claiming religious discrimination. A federal judge sided with the city, noting that other religious agencies contracting with the city also objected to homosexuality, but did not refuse service to same-sex couples. A court of appeals unanimously upheld the lower court decision in 2019, setting the stage for a battle before the Supreme Court.
Now, Metro Weekly reports, that the Trump Administration has filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that requiring CSS to serve gay couples violates the agencies First Amendment rights.
“This Court has long recognized that a law is not neutral and generally applicable if it allows government officials to grant individualized exemptions, because the application of such a rule in any particular case depends on a government official’s discretionary decision to grant or withhold an exemption,” the brief reads. “A law also is not neutral and generally applicable if it excludes from its scope secular conduct that undercuts the government’s asserted interests to a similar or greater degree than the religious conduct that it covers.”
At the moment, Philadelphia has about 400,000 children in foster care. Supporters of the city argue in this case that ruling in favor of CSS would have a disastrous effect on those children in need of good homes. They also argue that a ruling in favor of CSS would set a dangerous precedent that would allow any agency receiving taxpayer dollars to establish discriminatory policies simply by claiming a religious exemption.
“The Trump administration submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on the side of a taxpayer-funded agency that is seeking a constitutional right to turn away people who fail to meet the agency’s religious criteria,” the deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, Leslie Cooper, wrote in a statement. “While this case involves rejecting LGBTQ families, if the Court accepts the claims made in this case, not only will this hurt children in foster care by reducing the number of families to care for them, but anyone who depends on a wide range of government services will be at risk of discrimination based on their sexual orientation, religion or any other characteristic that fails a provider’s religious litmus test.”
The Trump administration continues to claim that Donald Trump is the most pro-LGBTQ president in history. An assessment of actions by the administration, however, reveals that Trump is actually the most anti-LGBTQ president in American history.