As far as the US Justice Department is concerned, forcing cities to work with discriminatory religious groups is the American way.
President Donald Trump’s Dept. of Justice is telling the U.S. Supreme Court it should allow religious and faith-based adoption agencies discriminate against LGBTQ families.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco has filed a strongly-worded 35 page amicus brief in a case claiming that Catholic Social Services is being denied their First Amendment rights after signing a contract with the City of Philadelphia to provide adoption and foster services – and to not discriminate.
Philadelphia dropped the religious non-profit after it said it would not allow same-sex couples, married or unmarried, to adopt or foster children. Catholic Social Services could continue to operate as it chooses, but the City of Philadelphia would no longer place children with it. In this suit, CSS is essentially saying that it has a First Amendment right to taxpayer-funded placements of children.
In the brief, Francisco and other DOJ attorneys, including Eric Dreiband, actually criticize a Philadelphia Human Services Commissioner for what they call “an impermissible lack of neutrality,” after she told Catholic Social Services “they should be following ‘the teachings of Pope Francis’ as she understood them.”
The DOJ goes all-out against those remarks, calling them “unconstitutional,” and claims they represent an “overt hostility toward religious belief,” an “animosity to religion or distrust of its practices,” and an “impermissible hostility to religion” – despite admitting a lower court noted the Commissioner was educated as a Jesuit and was “simply making ‘an effort to reach common ground.’”
The DOJ uses the word “hostility” in its brief 25 times.
“The U.S. government isn’t a party to the case, known as Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, so the brief is completely voluntary,” The Washington Blade reports. “In justifying the brief before the Supreme Court, the filing makes the case the Justice Department has a compelling interest to intervene.”
The Supreme Court accepted the case in February. The far right wing Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Catholic Social Services.
Francisco has represented the Trump administration in telling the Supreme Court the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay people in the workplace from discrimination. As Solicitor General he has also asked the Supreme Court to rule that firing an employee simply because they are gay is legal, and that it is legal under federal law for employers to fire transgender workers merely for being transgender.
Francisco clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who represented the court’s animus against LGBTQ Americans and same-sex couples for decades. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Lumen Christi Institute, which says it works “to renew our civilization by forming leaders for a global society in need of Christian wisdom.”
In years past anti-gay activists and the Catholic Church have falsely claimed the Catholic Social Services adoption agency in Boston was “forced” to shut its doors in 2006 because it refused to allow LGBTQ people adopt. In reality, its board members voted to allow LGBTQ people to adopt, but it chose to close rather than allow same-sex parents adopt.
Written by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement. Image via NCRM