The Corner

Law & the Courts

Fulton Is Not a Case about ‘LGBT Rights’

Children play on a giant rainbow flag as they take part in a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan, October 28, 2017. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

As our own Kathryn Jean Lopez has already noted on the Corner, the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia, which had been shut down by the city for its policy of placing children in homes with a married mother and father. Kathryn also points out, as she did in a previous column, that the case isn’t, as left-wing activists insist, about “gay rights” at all; it is about children in need.

But it’s worth making another point about how the case isn’t really about “LGBT rights,” especially in light of the commentary following today’s ruling. For one thing, it’s entirely inaccurate to suggest, as Politico did in its breaking-news update, that the Court has sided with a group “that turns away same-sex couples as foster parents.” A similar claim showed up in CNN’s headline reporting the news: “Supreme Court rules in favor of Catholic foster care agency that refused to work with same-sex couples.”

As shown by the Becket Fund, which defended Catholic Social Services in court, the City of Philadelphia has been unable to find a single instance of a same-sex couple so much as approaching the Catholic agency about fostering a child. To suggest that the agency “turns away” such couples, then, is simply untrue.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, Politico’s account claims that the Court’s ruling now permits Catholic Social Services to “reject would-be parents based on their sexual orientation.” But the institution’s policy has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Rather, the policy — informed by the teaching of the Catholic Church — is to work to place foster children in homes with a married mother and father.

For this reason, the agency also does not partner with unmarried straight couples. Presumably, the agency would not place a child with two brothers, straight or gay, who wish to adopt a child together, nor would the agency place a child with two female best friends who live together, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The reason for hypothetically refusing to place a child with a same-sex couple, marital status aside, is because the Catholic Church teaches and the agency believes that it is best for children to live in a home headed up by a married mother and father. The sexual orientation of the individuals is beside the point.

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