USCJ Participates in Amicus Curiae Brief to Protect LGBTQ Rights

Equality
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USCJ continues to be actively involved in advocating for and protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community, including same sex marriage.

Along with other religious organizations, USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly are planning to participate in an amicus curiae brief before the United States Supreme Court this August, making the same argument as the amicus brief that was filed in the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Click here to read that amicus brief).

Specifically, USCJ is supporting the argument that a municipality may make “no discrimination against same-sex couples” a condition of contracts for foster care/adoption agencies, including agencies operated by religious groups such as the Catholic Church.

The anti-discrimination restriction is an across-the-board restriction on all agencies that contract with the municipality. The religious agencies are forced to make a choice between their religious beliefs and doing business with the municipality. If they choose the former, they lose a significant revenue stream which helps to fund their religious activities. If they choose the latter, they are forced to violate their religious beliefs. The position USCJ is joining is: The anti-discrimination provision is a law of general application, not targeted against anyone (certainly not against religious groups, which would be ipso facto unconstitutional), and which gives same sex couples equal rights with hetero couples. Each agency (religious or secular) can choose to accept the restriction (and do business with the City) or not. No one is forced to do business with the City against their beliefs.

This position is in keeping with the CJLS Teshuvah on same-gender relationships which affirms the value of human dignity in arguing for full equality for LGBTQ persons.

Case Background

In March 2018, after the City of Philadelphia learned that the foster care agency, Catholic Social Services (CSS), would not license same-sex couples to be foster parents, the city ceased referring children to it. CSS and four of its foster parents, represented by counsel from the Becket Fund, sued the City of Philadelphia asking the court to order the city to renew the agency’s contract. On August 14, 2018, the ACLU was permitted to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of the Support Center for Child Advocates, a nonprofit that represents and advocates for children in the foster care system, and Philadelphia Family Price, a nonprofit membership organization of LGBTQ+ people and their families, whose members include same-sex foster parents and prospective foster parents.

History of LGBTQ Advocacy

This is not the first time that USCJ and the RA have shown solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Several years ago, USCJ and RA joined with other religious groups in the amicus curiae briefs in United States v. Windsor, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, in which federal laws discriminating against same-sex marriage were struck down.

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