When a lesbian couple in Philadelphia attended a Bethany information session on foster parenting in 2018, they were told “this organization has never placed a child with a same-sex couple,” one of the women told The Philadelphia Inquirer. They were eventually referred to another agency. Media reports prompted the city to suspend contracts with Bethany’s local branch and Catholic Social Services, an agency with the same practice.
Some faith-based agencies have challenged new requirements to work with gay clients in the courts. Catholic Social Services sued the City of Philadelphia over its contract suspension, a case that the Supreme Court heard in November. A ruling is expected by the end of June.
Bethany, by contrast, has generally opted to comply. In Philadelphia, the branch changed its policy to work with gay parents, and the city restored its contract. That year, Bethany’s national board passed a resolution granting local boards the authority to comply with state and local contract requirements. As of last year, the organization said, Bethany branches in 12 states were working with L.G.B.T.Q. families, although those changes were rarely publicized.
“I am disappointed in this decision, as are many,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement on Monday. “This move will harm already existing efforts to enable faith-based orphan care ministries to serve the vulnerable without…