Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Opinion: Supreme Court case to determine LGBTQ+ rights in foster care
0 Comments

Opinion: Supreme Court case to determine LGBTQ+ rights in foster care

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

On June 26, 2015, news outlet interns poured out of the U.S. Supreme Court, running at top speed to their respective media producers. They carried slips of paper that, unbeknownst to them, would profess the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.

That June day was one of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. But, this June, interns may carry a much less joyous decision as they sprint to their supervisors. This month, the Supreme Court stands poised to rule on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, another pivotal case involving LGBTQ+ rights.

In March 2018, the city of Philadelphia learned that two of its contracted foster care providers would not license same-sex couples and, consequently, stopped referring individuals to these agencies. Catholic Social Services, one of the agencies, sued the city, citing freedom of religion and speech as justification for rejecting qualified couples on the basis of sexual orientation.

The district court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected this argument, ruling that taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies cannot discriminate. The Supreme Court heard this case last November, and is seemingly poised to rule in favor of Catholic Social Services. In doing so, private agencies that receive federal funding would be free to deny services to individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Such a policy would be nothing new for Oklahoma. In 2018, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a law allowing private adoption agencies to refuse placements on the basis of religious beliefs. However, this law only applies to agencies not receiving state or federal funds. Fulton v. City of Philadelphia stands to expand this policy to include agencies receiving such resources.

Current policies regarding adoption for same-sex couples varies from state to state; 20 states currently have no protections against discrimination in foster care based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and five prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only.

Yet, LGBTQ individuals are a key demographic for child welfare agencies: According to research conducted by The Williams Institute of UCLA, an estimated 2 million LGBTQ people are interested in adopting, and same-sex parents are seven times more likely than different-sex parents to be raising an adopted or foster child.

Same-sex couples are also more likely than heterosexual couples to adopt older children, children with special needs and across racial lines, three groups that generally remain in the foster care system for longer periods.

And, according to Considering Adoption, banning gay and lesbian foster care could cost the country between $87 million and $130 million, with individual states losing up to $27 million.

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia has the potential for a long-reaching impact, but whether this impact will be positive or negative remains to be seen. Federally contracted foster care agencies should not be free to deny services to the same taxpayers who fund these agencies.

With over 437,000 children currently in foster care, America cannot afford to limit the number of qualified foster parents, especially when those parents are more likely to adopt vulnerable demographics.

A native of Tulsa, Sarah Walter is a sociology and social work student at Texas Christian University.

Featured video:

Editorial Pages editor Wayne Greene reads the May 29 editorial, "Encouraging moves by Epic's new governing board"

A native of Tulsa, Sarah Walter is a sociology and social work student at Texas Christian University.

0 Comments

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

President Joe Biden supports a ban on assault weapons like the one that has been in place in California since 1989. On June 4, however, the Hon. Roger Benitez, United States judge for the Southern District of California, ruled that California’s ban is unconstitutional. The judge is probably correct, writes columnist John M. Crisp.

  • Updated

If Stitt's veto avoided an additional complication to the complicated state tax code, it also put the kybosh on the only piece of legislation passed this year by House Minority Floor Leader Andy Fugate, who — less than an hour before the veto — called out the governor from the well of the House chamber during emotional debate on Senate Bill 1080, the column says.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News