Adoption Agencies Should Be Allowed to Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples, Trump Administration Says

The Trump administration believes that adoption agencies should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples, and they are fighting for it in the nation's highest court. According to NBC News, the Trump administration has gone to the Supreme Court and submitted a brief that argues for the right of Catholic Social Services, a taxpayer-funded organization, to be legally allowed to refuse same-sex couples — as well as any other group it considers to be in violation of its religious beliefs — the right to adopt.

The brief was filed by the Department of Justice, in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. This case centers around Philidelphia's Catholic Social Services, a religious nonprofit that operates a child welfare agency, refusing to all same-sex couples to foster or adopt children. This is in violation of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. In the brief, the Trump administration states that "Philadelphia has impermissibly discriminated against religious exercise," and that the city’s actions "reflect unconstitutional hostility toward Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs."

In 2018, Catholic Social Services sued the city after Philadelphia ended its contract with the faith-based organization after it learned that CSS would not allow same-sex couples to be potential parents for foster children. Catholic Social Services argued that it was a violation of the organization's constitutional rights to free religious exercise and free speech to be forced to work with same-sex couples. Catholic Social Services lost its district court case, later appealing to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court unanimously upheld the ruling handed down by the lower court. Attorneys for Catholic Social Services then appealed to the Supreme Court in February.

Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Catholic Social Services, previously spoke about the Supreme Court hearing, stating, "I’m relieved to hear that the Supreme Court will weigh in on faith-based adoption and foster care. Over the last few years, agencies have been closing their doors across the country, and all the while children are pouring into the system." Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, spoke about the matter as well, stating that this case is more than just about "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," Cooper said, "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." NBC News noted that The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.