Archdiocese sues Philadelphia for religious discrimination as city blocks referrals to church agency for rejecting gay couples

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit against the city for blocking referrals to its adoption agency, the Catholic Social Services (CSS) because it will not consider placing children for gay couples.

(Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)The Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia won't compromise its beliefs to begin considering LGBTQ families in its adoption services.

In March, the city asked agencies to place at least 6,000 children in foster care as soon as possible. CSS, however, was barred from receiving referrals from the Department of Human Services (DHS).

DHS apparently investigated CSS for refusing to adopt out children in LGBTQ families. It's a long-standing policy based on the church's religious convictions that marriage, as a sacrament, must be between a man and a woman.

The lawsuit contends that there are other adoption agencies that accept same-sex couples, but CSS won't compromise its beliefs in order to be more inclusive. The lawsuit also pointed out that CSS has no prior complaints about its policy and has coordinated without any problems with the DHS for at least a decade.

The government's lawyers stated in a letter, however, that CSS's policy against LGBTQ families was unconstitutional and discriminatory, hence it moved to block the adoption agency from the referrals. It could potentially freeze CSS's services for good.

Philadelphia wants CSS to change its policy to revoke the ban. CSS, thought its lawyers, asks the courts to end the city's ban on their services but a hearing has not yet been set.

"Despite a foster care crisis and a need for more foster homes, the City of Philadelphia has decided to cut off foster placements for Catholic Social Services and prioritize political grandstanding over the needs of children," the first statement to the lawsuit read.

At least three foster parents signed on as plaintiffs in the lawsuit and cited the city for religious discrimination and breach of contract with CSS.

Cecilia Paul, Toni Lynn Simms-Busch and Sharonell Fulton have years of experience with the foster care system and believe that CSS provides one of the best adoption services in Philadelphia. These foster moms attest that CSS offers 24/7 support and resources.

"If the city cuts off Catholic Social Services from foster care, foster moms like me won't have the help and support they need to care for the special-needs kids," Fulton told reporters.