PHILADELPHIA – Following today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, City Solicitor Diana Cortes issued this statement:
“Today’s decision is a difficult and disappointing setback for foster care youth and the foster parents who work so hard to support them. We are disappointed that the Court overturned decisions by the district court – which heard this case as the fact finder – and the Court of Appeals both of which found that the City is entitled to insist its contractors treat all citizens equally. With today’s decision, the Court has usurped the City’s judgment that a non-discrimination policy is in the best interests of the children in its care, with disturbing consequences for other government programs and services. At the same time, the city is gratified that the Supreme Court did not, as the plaintiffs sought, radically change existing constitutional law to adopt a standard that would force court-ordered religious exemptions from civic obligations in every arena.
“Allowing contractors and partners to set their own terms for how they provide public services will create a confusing patchwork in government programs and will weaken government non-discrimination guarantees. In contrast, non-discrimination requirements like the one struck down by the Court today encourage a larger, more diverse pool of available foster parents. They also send an important message of inclusion and acceptance to the many LGBTQ youth in the City’s care.
“Despite the challenges posed by today’s ruling, we will continue to care for our city’s foster care youth, including in partnership with Catholic Social Services, and to support the loving families who welcome them into their homes. The City will not waver from our commitment to ensuring equality for all Americans, including LGBTQ families. For the City, an important part of that work is ensuring that all foster care youth and families know that they are treated equally and accorded full dignity in and through the foster care system. That work will not halt and has never been more important. The City will continue to protect and include all Philadelphians, including LGBTQ youth and families, while recognizing and respecting the Supreme Court’s ruling.”