PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney and other City officials today applauded the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, upholding last year’s U.S. District Court ruling in favor of Philadelphia in the lawsuit filed against it by Catholic Social Services (CSS).
At issue in the case is the City’s ability to enforce its longstanding non-discrimination policies, which are set forth in the Fair Practices Ordinance and are incorporated into its contract with CSS to provide foster care services for the Department of Human Services.
In today’s opinion, a three-judge panel unanimously agreed with the City’s position, ruling that CSS is not entitled to a religious exemption from its contractual agreement to abide by the City’s non-discrimination policy.
Mayor Jim Kenney:
“I am grateful for the Court’s careful analysis of the case and its thoughtful decision. Our policy ensures that same-sex couples do not face discrimination as they seek to offer loving homes to Philadelphia children in need of foster care. At the same time, the policy safeguards religious liberties. We are proud that Philadelphia is a welcoming, inclusive city that values the diversity of its residents. This policy is the embodiment of those values, and we are pleased that the court has now upheld it.”
City Solicitor Marcel Pratt:
“We could not be more pleased with the Court’s decision today on such an important issue for the City of Philadelphia. The Court rejected Catholic Social Services’ request for an order forcing the City to renew this contractual relationship while permitting Catholic Social Services to turn away same-sex couples who wish to be foster parents. The decision also recognizes that the City’s nondiscrimination laws and policies are neutral and generally applicable, and do not violate religious liberties. We would like to thank the panel from the Court of Appeals for their careful analysis of the case. Today’s victory affirms the City’s approach to enforcing its longstanding Fair Practices Ordinance and nondiscrimination policies, protecting City residents from discrimination in its many forms.”
Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa, Department of Humans Services:
“We want all individuals who are able to provide safe, loving, and welcoming homes to consider fostering. The court’s decision means that prospective foster parents will not be unlawfully turned away from our provider agencies and will allow us to best serve the children and youth in our care.”