Cities Urge Supreme Court to Uphold Anti-Discrimination Protections

September 14, 2020 by Dan McCue
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Mayors and a coalition of leaders from smaller municipalities are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold protections against discrimination in the delivery of government services.

The court is currently scheduled to hear the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia on Nov. 4.

During oral arguments, the justices will consider whether a foster care agency can override Philadelphia’s discrimination protections the city has imposed on government contractors and taxpayer-funded agencies, and turn away LGBTQ people or others seeking to be foster parents, based on the agency’s religious beliefs.

The case could have broad implications for the application of nondiscrimination laws and government policies around the country.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Monday, the mayors argue that if the foster care agency were to prevail, it would effectively void anti-discrimination statutes across the country and would impair the delivery of services to diverse communities.

“No one should be discriminated against because of who they love, who they are, or what they believe, especially by an organization that contracts with government agencies,” said Albany, N.Y., Mayor Kathy Sheehan, one of the signatories to the brief.

“I’m proud to join Philadelphia, New York City, and municipalities across the country to ensure cities are not forced to contract with organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples – or any other protected class of residents,” Sheehan said.

Marisa Franchini, corporation counsel for the city of Albany, said, “It is important that we protect all residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, gender, and all other protected characteristics when delivering government services, or when partnering with outside organizations to do so.

“That is why we must take a stand against this latest attack on not only the LBGTQ+ community, but all of our neighbors and community members.” 

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