US Supreme Court to take case that could allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples

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A decision is expected in June of this year.

The US Supreme Court is taking up a case which could lead to it becoming legal to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

The issue arose between a Catholic charity and the city of Philadelphia. The city was using the services of the Catholic Social Services, which finds homes for abused and neglected children. However, after it emerged that the charity wouldn’t re-home anyone to a same-sex couple, the city ended the contract.

The Catholic Social Services sued, claiming that re-homing children with same-sex couples violated its views on religious teachings about marriage. However, lower federal courts ruled in favour of Philadelphia, saying the city was properly enforcing its anti-discrimination laws.

Similarly, the Third Court of Appeals ruled that “religious belief will not excuse compliance with general civil rights laws,” adding that the charity “failed to make a persuasive showing that the city targeted it for its religious beliefs, or is motivated by ill will against its religion, rather than sincere opposition to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The defence that the charity is lodging with the Supreme Court claims that they had never been approached by a same-sex couple looking to foster a child and that the court rulings “allows governments to exclude religious foster-and-adoption agencies unless they speak the government’s preferred message regarding marriage.”

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If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the charity, then it will overturn a 30-year-old decision that religious groups aren’t exempt from general local, state or federal laws.

The 1990 ruling came after two Native Americans who worked at a rehabilitation centre in Oregon were fired for ingesting the illegal drug, peyote. They claimed it was part of a religious ceremony, but they were ruled against.

The Supreme Court is currently more conservative leaning, and in 2018, ruled in favour of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’. They also ruled in favour of Tr*mp’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

This isn’t the only LGBTQ-related case that the Supreme Court is looking into at the moment, as they’re also due to decide whether it is legal to fire someone because they are LGBTQ.

One of the claimants in the case is Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who was fired from Altitude Express after a customer discovered his sexual orientation and complained. Zarda sadly died in a BASE diving accident in 2014, but his partner, William Moore, is representing his estate.

Moore said: “LGBTQ people in America have been fighting for our rights my entire life. Each step of the way, opponents of equality have pushed back on our struggle to be respected and treated with dignity.

“Don’s case is a continuation of that struggle. Too many of my friends still have to live in fear in their workplace, hiding who they are from their colleagues and superiors, changing their pronouns at work, their livelihood dependent on how well they wear masks that they should have been able to discard years ago.”

Like the adoption case, this ruling is expected to be delivered in June 2020.

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