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(PHILADELPHIA) The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling which allowed the city of Philadelphia to ensure that agencies participating in its foster care program do not engage in discrimination based on sexual orientation. The city banned Catholic Social Services from participating in a foster care program due to its refusal to accept same-sex couples as foster parents.

In a surprising unanimous ruling, the court cited specific actions taken by the city of Philadelphia that it deemed to be in violation of the organization’s First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. The following is a statement from Damon T. Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“This ruling gives Philadelphia religious organizations the ability to discriminate using government funds, essentially paying them to violate the rights of same-sex couples. This discrimination will disproportionately harm Black and Brown people seeking to foster children in the city of Philadelphia, and will further harm children of color in the Philadelphia foster care system in need of caring and loving homes.”



About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit