LGBTQ Nondiscrimination & Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

The Case: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

This term, the Supreme Court will decide Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the next landmark case affecting our movement for nationwide LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections.

The case centers on a taxpayer-funded religious foster care agency that refused to work with same-sex couples in violation of the provisions of its contract with the City of Philadelphia. The wrong decision could give agencies across the country a broad license to discriminate—not just against LGBTQ people, but also against people of faith and others—and not just in the child welfare context

This case specifically, and the ongoing uncertainty around whether LGBTQ issues will get a fair hearing before the Court, shows exactly why we need an explicit federal nondiscrimination law like the Equality Act.

Securing full LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections through Congress will be Freedom for All Americans’ work ahead, no matter what happens in Fulton.

Join us in this critical work by signing our pledge supporting nationwide nondiscrimination protections.

Why Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Matters

Nearly half a million kids nationwide are in the foster care system, and these children are at risk of homelessness, poverty, and incarceration if they don’t get placed in a loving home before they age out of the system.

At the same time, we have thousands of loving, caring, responsible LGBTQ future foster parents willing to take those children in. It’s dangerous and harmful for foster agencies to prioritize discrimination ahead of the needs of the children they serve, children who are in desperate need of placement with loving families.

While the specifics of the Fulton case involve foster care services and LGBTQ prospective parents, the stakes in the case are broader. A loss would result in taxpayer-funded child welfare services agencies like Catholic Social Services having a right to discriminate against children in government care when providing foster care services on behalf of cities or states using taxpayer dollars.

And such a license to discriminate could go far beyond foster care services. A ruling in this case for Catholic Social Services could also apply to food banks, homeless shelters, disaster relief services and other taxpayer-funded services—creating a broad license to discriminate.

Of course we respect religious freedom as protected by the Constitution, but when agencies choose to accept Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars to provide care to vulnerable children in the foster care system, the needs of those children MUST come first.

Read more about Fulton v. City of Philadelphia in our litigation tracker.

News & Updates

Supreme Court Rules in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia 

By Communications Team • June 17, 2021, 1:24 pm The U.S. Supreme Court today issued its ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case concerning whether a religious foster care agency can refuse to work with same-sex couples in violation of the nondiscrimination provisions of a contract into which it voluntarily entered and received taxpayer funds to carry out.  

Analysis | A License to Discriminate Could Be Rejected by the Supreme Court. Here’s Why:

By Jon Davidson • November 10, 2020, 10:19 am Our Chief Counsel Jon Davidson listened in on oral arguments in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the next landmark case for LGBTQ freedom. He came away thinking there was hope that a broad license to discriminate would be rejected. Here's what he learned.

What to Expect When You’re Electing: 2020

By Shane Stahl • November 2, 2020, 9:51 am Not only is the highest office in the land up for grabs, but newly elected officials could consider and pass federal and state legislation to protect LGBTQ people in key areas of everyday life including housing, employment, and public spaces.

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: What’s at Stake and Who’s Affected

By Shane Stahl • October 30, 2020, 3:47 pm There is so much at stake in the case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which the Supreme Court will hear on November 4.

My takeaway from last week’s Amy Coney Barrett hearings

By Jon Davidson • October 19, 2020, 10:30 am As we head into a final Senate vote on Judge Barrett, remind your se high the stakes are for LGBTQ freedom—and that they must make passing the Equality Act a priority.

A Broad Coalition Is Opposing a License to Discriminate at the Supreme Court