Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to hear a Philadelphia case about whether the city can exclude a foster care provider that would not license same-sex parents.
The Supreme Court said Monday it would hear the 2018 case, and it is likely to hear arguments in the fall after the next term starts in October.
CSS said its First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion allowed it to reject same-sex couples regardless of their qualifications to care for children. The city, on the other hand, said it should be able to exclude services such as CSS, which does not license same-sex parents, to prevent discrimination.
The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, representing the Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride, intervened in the lawsuit, arguing that CSS did not have a constitutional right to discriminate and was not entitled to the taxpayer-funded contract to provide government services as a foster care agency.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the city on April 22, affirming the district court's denial of CSS's request for injunction and ruling the city is allowed to require compliance with its non-discrimination policy.
"The City of Philadelphia is proud of our longstanding commitment to supporting freedom of religion and preserving equal access to services for all people -- regardless of their race, national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity," City Solicitor Marcel Pratt said in a statement. "Abiding by that commitment is central to any contract that the city enters into."
"Unfortunately, CSS refused to consider qualified same-sex couples to become foster parents -- even when these couples would be a safe, loving family for the child -- and in doing so, CSS defied the city's nondiscrimination policy, as reflected in its original contract and reaffirmed in the most recent contract offered to all foster care providers," Pratt added.