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Supreme Court Rules Discriminatory Religious Practices Outweigh LGBTQ Rights

Washington, D.C.—Today the civil rights organization American Atheists denounced the unanimous decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia as a dangerous expansion of religious exemptions that undermine civil rights protections for all Americans.

As a result of this case, Catholic Social Services (CSS) will force the City of Philadelphia to continue its adoption services contract despite violating the city’s rules that protect LGBTQ foster parents from discrimination. “CSS sought something radical: They wanted to require the city to contract with them, but only on their terms—and sadly, they succeeded,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “The Supreme Court has strengthened the resolve of those seeking the special right to discriminate because of their religious beliefs.”

This dangerous ruling builds upon previous decisions that undermine religious freedom by forcing Americans to fund religious organizations, even if they discriminate, and sidestep civil rights protections in the name of religion. These rulings include Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer (2017), Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), and Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020).

“With this decision, the Court has continued to chip away at the core principle that laws should apply to everyone, regardless of religion. Whenever conflicts arise, the outcome too often favors conservative Christians, even if it twists the law in knots or contradicts fundamental legal principles,” added Gill. “The Supreme Court keeps creating new rules that conveniently allow certain religious interests to always win.”

“Today, the Supreme Court once again put the discriminatory beliefs of the few ahead of equality for all,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “Today’s decision reinforces the simple truth that Philadelphia taxpayers are being forced to subsidize discrimination. When my parents adopted me, the only thing that mattered was that they would love me and put my interests first.”

“While hundreds of thousands of young people wait for their forever homes in our nation’s foster care system, putting anything ahead of their best interests and denying them a loving family—whether they’re gay or straight, Catholic or Jewish, religious or not—is a moral disgrace,” added Fish.