LGBTQ Catholics Express Relief, Disappointment at Supreme Court’s Adoption Ruling

Jamie Manson

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of a Catholic social service agency that sought to discriminate against LGBTQ people in adoption and foster care services. Today’s post features reactions to the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia ruling from both Catholics and LGBTQ advocates. To read New Ways Ministry’s statement, click here.

Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, issued a statement saying she was “relieved” that the Court refrained from issuing a wider ruling that would cut into non-discrimination laws. She added, in part:

“As Catholics, we are distressed to see church leaders spend so much time and money fighting in the Supreme Court to win the right to take away civil protections from marginalized people – not least because Catholic voters overwhelmingly reject the use of religion as a weapon to discriminate against others. Our polling shows that 70% of Catholics believe that LGBTQ people should be allowed to adopt children, and that foster agencies should not have the right to refuse to work with them.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, was also relieved on similar grounds. She commented through a statement, in part:

“It remains deeply problematic that some religiously affiliated agencies continue to seek the ability to ban same-sex couples from opening their hearts and homes to children in need and undermine our hopes for expanding our families. The biases that lie at the heart of this case need to be eradicated.”

Fr. James Martin, SJ, posted on Facebook:

“It would be a tragedy if the Supreme Court has reached the conclusion that being Catholic means being against LGBTQ people.”

Michael Sean Winters

Writing in advance of the ruling, Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter, whose record on LGBTQ political issues is somewhat mixed, made a point about the implications for the church:

“Whatever the court decides, the church should rethink its stance. Some years ago, I had a roommate who was a social worker and he relied on several families who could be counted on to take a call at 4 a.m. and come retrieve a child in need of foster care. Some of those foster parents were same-sex couples. Other times, the agency had a child with special needs who could not be placed with a family with other children, or children whose needs were so extensive, only a couple with means could take the child. Again, some of the couples who stepped up to help these children were same-sex couples. The ‘best interest of the child’ is a concrete reality; it is not only an issue involving principles at 35,000 feet. No matter what the court decides, the Catholic Church is wrong to discriminate a priori against same-sex couples willing to be foster parents.”

Mary Novak

Mary Novak, the new executive director of Network, issued a statement that read, in part:

“My Catholic faith holds that family is sacred. Denying our LGBTQ+ neighbors, friends, and family members the ability to build loving families with children in our foster care system is unjust. NETWORK calls on Congress to listen to an overwhelming majority of voters, including people of faith, and pass the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act to protect the overwhelming number of LGBTQ+ children and children of color who currently reside in our foster care systems.”

Contrasting with the aforementioned faith leaders and observers, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Nelson Perez was quite positive about the Fulton decision, saying, according to Crux, it “makes it abundantly clear that religious ministries cannot be forced to abandon their beliefs as the price for ministering to those in need.”

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, June 21, 2021

2 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    The issue is less about children who require foster care or adoption services and more about the Church’s intent to reinforce that same sex couples are ” inherently disordered”.
    Looking at this objectively , perhaps the numbers of same sex couples who have been rejected as applicants here are relatively low. The legal costs the Church took on speaks volumes as that expense was ‘worth it’ . The Catholic Church in the United States is not acting pastorally, but rather in the style of Uber clericalism . What a shame.

  2. James
    James says:

    Philadelphia Archbishop Perez’s remark clearly implies that it’s preferable for a religious ministry to abandon those in need rather than set aside church doctrine. Wow. How did we get from the Beatitudes to such a view? Jesus had harsh words for the religious leaders of his day who made life harder for people with their rules and requirements. The Fulton ruling gave Perez joy. It gives countless other Catholics another reason to wonder just where their church is heading.


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