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ACLU Asks Court to Hear From Child Advocates and LGBTQ Families in Foster Parents Case

ACLU Asks Court to Hear From Child Advocates and LGBTQ Families in Foster Parents Case

June 08, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in federal court today to intervene in a pending lawsuit brought by Catholic Social Services (CSS) against the city of Philadelphia over its policy barring agencies from discriminating against same-sex couples. The ACLU represents the Support Center for Child Advocates, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation and services to children in the foster care system, and Philadelphia Family Pride (PFP), a membership organization of LGBTQ parents and prospective parents.

Earlier this year, the city ended its practice of referring foster children to CSS because the agency refuses to license qualified same-sex couples to be foster parents or to place children with same-sex couples, which prompted CSS to respond with its lawsuit in the federal district court. The ACLU’s motion to intervene argues that the children and families served by Child Advocates and PFP would be harmed if CSS is successful in its lawsuit and asks the court for permission to participate in the lawsuit.

“The heart of this case is what is in the best interests of children,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Loving, supportive same-sex couples are willing to open their homes to kids in need, but CSS’s policy gives them one less avenue to make that happen. It would be a tremendous loss for our children if agencies were permitted to turn away good families based on failure to meet religious criteria.”

A motion to intervene allows someone who could be directly impacted by its outcome to join the lawsuit as a party. If the court grants the motion, the ACLU will be able to argue in court on behalf of Child Advocates and PFP to explain why a ruling in favor of CSS would harm children in the foster care system and prospective families who seek to care for them.

“Children in foster care in Philadelphia need every possible family that is ready, willing, and able to care for them,” said Frank Cervone, executive director of the Support Center for Child Advocates. “The Support Center for Child Advocates is entering the case to advocate for the best interests of all of Philadelphia’s children. We are in this for the kids. They need a voice in this dispute.”

CSS has asked the court for a preliminary injunction directing the city to continue to refer kids to CSS while the litigation proceeds. A hearing on CSS’s request for a preliminary injunction is currently scheduled for June 18.

“When families make the decision to open their hearts and homes to a child in need, they should not have to face discrimination by the child placing agencies,” said Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride.  “Families that are prepared to help a child should be welcomed and supported, not turned away based on an agency’s religious disapproval.”

“When governments contract with private agencies to provide public child welfare services and pay them taxpayer dollars to do it, they may not permit them to turn away qualified families based on religious objections to those families,” said Leslie Cooper of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project. “That would violate the constitution.”

The Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride are represented by Leslie Cooper of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, Mary Catherine Roper and Molly Tack-Hooper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Fred T. Magaziner and Catherine V. Wigglesworth of Dechert LLP, and Frank P. Cervone of the Support Center for Child Advocates.

A copy of the motion filed today by the ACLU is available at this link.

Masterpiece Cakeshop – What it Means for You (Spoiler Alert: Not Much)

by Lee Carpenter 
wedding cakeThis week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That’s the famous “gay wedding cake” case, in which a very religious baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a Colorado same-sex couple.The couple filed a complaint with the state agency responsible for enforcing Colorado’s LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination law. They won, and the baker appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that his right to the free exercise of his religion had been violated by the state.

So the baker won. And unfortunately, that’s led to a lot of folks on both sides claiming that all of America’s haters now have a “license to discriminate” as long as they cloak their animosity towards us in religious clothing.

That’s just not true. In fact, this ruling resolved none of the major issues in the case.

We didn’t know before this opinion whether a religious baker could refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. We still don’t.

We didn’t know whether baking a cake is the kind of artistic expression that makes it protected by the First Amendment. We still don’t know the answer to that either, because the Supreme Court didn’t rule on those things.

All the opinion said was that in this case, some officials sounded like they were being disrespectful and dismissive of the baker’s religious belief, and that that was unacceptable.

All of the big issues in this case will have to be resolved at some point, but for now, the Court has decided that this isn’t the right case to make big, bold pronouncements about how the balance between religion and LGBT civil rights gets resolved.

So for now, go about your business, and go to whatever business you like.

Lee Carpenter is a Temple University Law School Professor. She and her partner Tiffany Palmer live in Mt. Airy with their 11 year-old kid.

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Pride Celebration at the Please Touch Museum

Join PFP families at the Please Touch Museum for their first-ever Pride celebration! Meet board members Ruby Augustus and Julie Assis and their families by the torch in the main hall at 9am. Reminder that PTM is only enjoyed by adults who are accompanied by kids.

More info:

As a part of this event, guests will enjoy a performance by two-time Grammy-nominated band, The Pop Ups, as they take you on a scavenger hunt for the best imaginative games your mind can dream up! The Pop Ups celebrate everyone in this high energy, interactive journey that transports audiences into a whimsical, educational world. The Pop Ups will perform at 12PM and 2PM in Hamilton Hall.
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Program Room: Keith Haring Collaboration and Self Portraits
11 am – 3 pm
Temporary Program Room, Lower Level
All ages with adult caregiver
Drop in and take a close look at yourself today! What makes you, you? Is it your looks, your feelings, the things you do? Get inspired by 1980s Pop Artist, Keith Haring, as you help PTM create collaborative art and then practice drawing yourself.

Artist Meet & Greet and Workshop: Sophie Strachan
11 am – 3 pm
Carousel House, Main Level
Ages: 3+ with adult caregiver
Meet local artist Sophie Strachan, grab some colors, and help finish a mural that highlights prominent LGBTQ figures and locations in Philadelphia.

Performance: Drag Queen Storytime
11:30 am – 12 pm, 12:30 – 1 pm, 2:30 – 3 pm, and 3:30 – 4 pm
Please Touch Playhouse, Lower Level
Ages: 3+ with adult caregiver
Children love stories and children love to dress up, so we’ve put the two together for our fabulous festival! Meet Brittany Lynn and Miss Aurora as they explore self-expression through dress-up. Then gather round for an interactive storytime with books all about individuality, pride, and celebrating uniqueness. Drag Queen Storytime is intended to encourage accepting differences, broadening perspectives, and looking beyond gender stereotypes.

Performance: The Pop Ups
12 – 12:30 pm and 2 – 2:30 pm
Hamilton Hall, Main Level
All ages with adult caregiver
Come party with two-time Grammy nominated band, The Pop Ups, as they take you on a scavenger hunt for the best imaginative games your mind can dream up! The Pop Ups will celebrate everyone in this high energy, interactive journey that transports audiences into a whimsical, educational world.

Storytime: Self- Empowerment and Acceptance
1:30 – 2 pm
Hello From Japan!, Main Level
Ages: 3+ with adult caregiver
Get cozy and listen to stories, sing songs, and build literacy skills with stories about self-empowerment and acceptance.

End of the Day Music and Movement
4:15 – 4:45 pm
Hamilton Hall, Main Level
All ages with adult caregiver
Meet us at the Torch to stretch, wiggle, and move your body as we end the day with an exploration of rhythm, movement, and self-expression.