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Supreme Court will hear case that may impact same-sex adoptions

Same-sex couples adopt and foster children at higher rates than heterosexual couples. 

The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School notes that over 21% of same-sex couples are raising an adopted child. In contrast, 3% of heterosexual couples have adopted a child. Roughly 3% of same-sex couples foster a child, while only .4% of heterosexual couples are foster parents. 

Supreme Court will hear case involving religious discrimination claim

The Movement Advancement Project explains that a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court may impact the rights of same-sex couples who wish to adopt or foster a child. 

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia involves a dispute between the city of Philadelphia and Catholic Social Services, or CSS. The city uses taxpayer dollars to fund contracts for child welfare services. CSS operates a private agency that contracts with the city to provide foster care. 

CSS declined to approve same-sex couples as foster parents. City officials argued the agency violated policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. CSS sued the city, claiming that approving these couples would infringe on the agency’s religious freedom. 

Court’s ruling may have broad implications

Lower courts ruled the city could terminate its contract with CSS. If the Supreme Court affirms these lower court decisions, the city may insist that a child welfare agency comply with nondiscrimination requirements in a taxpayer-funded contract. 

A decision in favor of the agency may have wide-ranging implications. The Court could issue a broad ruling that exempts religiously affiliated organizations from nondiscrimination requirements in government contracts. Policy analysts suggest this could threaten the ability of same-sex couples to work with publicly-funded agencies to adopt and foster children who need a home.