Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in an amicus brief Thursday in support of a City of Philadelphia ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The friend-of-the-court-brief — centers around a lawsuit about whether religiously-affiliated child welfare organizations can reject same-sex couples seeking to be foster parents due to the agency’s religious beliefs.
That lawsuit came about when Catholic Social Services sued Philadelphia in 2018 after the city ended its contract with the foster care provider upon learning the organization would not consider same-sex couples as potential foster parents. The faith-based agency argued that providing services to same-sex couples would violate their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religious freedom.
The case is now on the Supreme Court’s docket for additional review.
“I fight for equality and justice for all,” Ford said. “Being a good parent should not be based on race or sexual orientation, and these vulnerable children need the deepest possible pool of welcoming foster families.”
In the amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general highlights the states’ shared interest in preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, including in child welfare services, arguing that foster children would benefit from a large pool of potential foster parents.
The brief also argues that foster care services in many states have long included anti-discrimination requirements for contractors to prevent “serious social and dignitary harms” caused to LGBTQ people by discrimination.
“Moreover, all of these organizations remain free to exercise their religious faith in word and deed outside of their voluntary roles as government contractors,” reads the brief.
While some faith-based organizations with objections to same-sex marriage have declined to continue their contracts to provide foster care services, many other organizations with religious affiliations have continued, reads the brief, adding the choice is up to those organizations.
In addition to Nevada, attorneys general from the following states joined the coalition filing the brief: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.