Religious Interference with Foster Parenting

On Friday of this week Christine Flowers, an opinion writer, wrote an editorial critical of the City of Philadelphia for severing the contractual relationship it had with Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services. Those two organizations provided foster home placement services for needy children for which they were paid by the City. When those organizations refused to allow a same-sex couple to provide foster care the City ended its relationship on the grounds that it was against the law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Following is the letter I wrote to Ms. Flowers’ employer, the Philadelphia Daily News:

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I just read Christine Flowers’ editorial titled “Kids suffer in dispute over same-sex placements” reprinted in the Columbus Dispatch. I was not independently familiar with this particular case so the only information I have is what she provided. Based on that alone and in spite of her repeated denial I suspect she is indeed a homophobe.

Since she is an attorney I assume she is trained in critical thinking and analysis. Yet she appears to blame a same-sex couple and the City of Philadelphia for not remaining silent while equal rights are being abridged. I completely agree with her that it is the children who suffer. But if she feels that way why not attack Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services for withholding their service and letting these children down simply because they refuse to operate within the law.

What if these organizations decided that couples are not satisfactory foster parents if they are Jewish, Muslim, Greek Orthodox, or some other faith? Would she be OK with that? Or what if another social services organization decided that couples are not acceptable if they are Black or mixed race? Would she still be arguing that the city and the couples discriminated against should remain silent because it will harm the children? Or is it just that this particular case is about a same-sex couple?

These organizations are taking public money for the services they deliver. They need to recognize and accept their public responsibility to provide those services on a non-discriminatory basis. Otherwise they need to cede those public funds to an organization that will. I applaud the City of Philadelphia.

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