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States, Lawmakers Urge High Court to Hear Philly Foster Moms Case to End Discrimination Against Faith-Based Agencies

08-27-2019
Two Philly moms case. (Image credit: Becket Law)
(Image credit: Becket Law)

Ten states and 44 members of Congress urged the US Supreme Court on Monday to hear the case of two Philadelphia foster mothers who are challenging the City of Philadelphia's harmful actions which threaten the future of the faith-based foster agency that brought their families together. 

Texas, Ohio, and Oklahoma along with other states, joined a friend-of-the-court brief agreeing with Becket, a religious rights law firm representing the mothers, that faith-based foster agencies play a vital role in addressing the national foster crisis that has become even more urgent in light of today's opioid epidemic. 

Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch are Philadelphia foster mothers standing with Catholic Social Services (CSS) and all foster children in need of homes. Fulton has fostered more than 40 children over 25 years. Simms-Busch is a former social worker who fostered two young brothers through Catholic Social Services and has now adopted them. 

As CBN News reported, last month Becket asked the Supreme Court to hear the two mothers' case and ensure that vulnerable foster children don't lose out on the opportunity to be placed in a loving home. 

Ten states argued that "working with a diverse coalition of child-placing agencies provides better services to children in foster care and the potential parents eager to care for them," and asked the Supreme Court to take the case to protect their ability to work with diverse agencies, including faith-based agencies. 

Forty-four members of Congress urged the high court to take the case because "Religiously motivated providers and parents have played a critical role in filling this need for centuries from coast to coast, and to drive them out ignores the critical need and the grave harm to children that would be caused by their loss."

Catholic Social Services has been serving the foster children of Philadelphia and their families since 1917, long before the city got involved. Last year, the city threatened to close the agency because it disagreed with the agency's biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, even though not one LGBTQ couple had applied with the agency.

"The foster care system relies on agencies that reflect the diversity of our communities," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket. "That's why it is so important to have faith-based agencies working alongside agencies that cater to ethnic and racial minorities, children with disabilities, and LGBT families."

The court is expected to decide whether to take the case sometime this fall. Becket is also defending another faith-based foster agency from government discrimination in Michigan in Buck v. Gordon. 

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