In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the city of Philadelphia violated the religious freedom of Catholic Social Services (CSS), specifically the agency’s foster care program that does not certify same-sex couples as foster parents.
“The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless CSS agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” the court wrote in the syllabus of their decision.
Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority opinion in the Fulton v. Philadelphia case, stating that “CSS 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. The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS 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.”
CSS not only refuses certification of same-sex couples as foster parents on religious grounds, the agency will not certify unmarried heterosexual couples either. Catholic doctrine teaches that the proper environment for the rearing of children is a household where the mother and father are married. Although a same-sex couple may be “civilly married,” the Church does not recognize these arrangements as real marriages. Read more…