More than 1,000 faith leaders, mayors and local governments, child welfare experts, and others in nearly 50 friend-of-the-court briefs urge Supreme Court justices not to allow discrimination in taxpayer-funded government services.

Today more than 1,000 experts and associations are filing 46 friend-of-the-court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on the side of the city of Philadelphia in Fulton v. City of PhiladelphiaThe Court announced yesterday that the Justices will hear oral arguments in the case on November 4.

The case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia considers whether a religious foster care agency that receives taxpayer funds from the city of Philadelphia can turn away same-sex couples seeking to be foster parents, despite the city’s contractual nondiscrimination requirement which prohibits this type of discrimination. The outcome of the case may have broad implications for the application of nondiscrimination laws and government policies around the country. The signers supporting the city of Philadelphia today are asking the Supreme Court to rule in favor of upholding nondiscrimination requirements regulating government contractors and taxpayer-funded agencies.

“We all cherish our constitutional freedom of religion, and that’s why our country has long balanced it with nondiscrimination protections that ensure all people are treated equally,” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and national campaign director of Freedom for All Americans. “The outcome of this case matters to all Americans, because discriminating in the provision of taxpayer-funded government services — as this foster care agency seeks to do — crosses an unprecedented line that could lead to dangerous consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.”

“As a foster and adoptive parent, I personally know the importance of placing children in the foster care system with qualified, loving families,” said Dan Zwonitzer, a longtime Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives and a foster and adoptive parent. “I can’t imagine denying a child a potential home in order to discriminate against the qualified parent seeking to care for someone in need. As a Republican, I believe religious agencies that voluntarily enter a taxpayer-funded government contract must meet their governmental obligations and should not be exempt from abiding by nondiscrimination requirements. In signing this brief, I urge the Supreme Court not to allow sweeping, extraordinary exemptions that may harm communities that are already vulnerable and to issue a ruling that ensures fairness for everyone.”

Freedom for All Americans was heavily involved in the strategy behind today’s amicus brief submission and recruited signers from the perspectives of approximately 450 faith leaders and clergy, 35 current and former Republican elected officials and leaders, more than 30 national businesses, and more than 165 mayors and local governments (including the U.S. Conference of Mayors) representing 50 million Americans. Freedom for All Americans signed onto a brief alongside other major LGBTQ organizations. Major child welfare professional associations, LGBTQ youth service providers, faith-based foster care agencies, faith leaders, legal scholars, civil rights organizations, bipartisan elected officials, and others also filed briefs. In total, 46 briefs from more than 1,000 signers will be filed by the end of the day.

“As a mayor, I know that my constituents need access to services from a wide variety of contractors and service providers without fear of discrimination,” said Mayor Jeffrey Slavin of Somerset, MD. “A loss in this case could result in taxpayer-funded agencies — such as foster care agencies, food banks, and homeless shelters — having a broad right to discriminate. A negative outcome in this case could harm all of my constituents but especially the most vulnerable members of our community. No one should worry about being turned away from crucial services because of who they are or what they believe.”

A new report released yesterday by the Movement Advancement Project illustrates the harms of religious exemptions in the child welfare system, as understood by the nation’s leading child welfare experts: https://www.lgbtmap.org/2020-fulton-report

“As a person of faith, I believe discrimination of any kind is wrong,” said Rev. Kate E. Smith, the Pastor of Mission & Outreach at Hyde Park UMC in Cincinnati, Ohio. “As a Christian, I am called to put my faith into action and to love and respect all of my neighbors. Freedom of religion is crucial and must continue to be protected, but it should never be used to prevent all people from being treated fairly or as a way to hurt, marginalize, and oppress certain groups of people. A negative outcome in this case could allow taxpayer-funded agencies to turn away LGBTQ people and others from critical services including foster care, food banks, hospitals, and more. I’m proud to be a signer on this brief and to send a message to the Supreme Court urging them to do the right thing and ensure equal protection for all Americans.”

For more information on the case, visit https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/fulton.

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