As gay marriage is now legal across all 50 states of America, it seems that the next issue that LGBTQ couples are fighting for is the right to parent.
We’ve already talked about the growing struggle between right wing politicians, LGBTQ couples, and adoption agencies in Georgia (with tv/movie creatives also getting involved), and now it seems a similar struggle is surfacing in Pennsylvania.
The trouble started when a lesbian couple went to an orientation meeting for a foster/adoption agency. Magan Paszko and her wife drove to Elkins Park in Philadelphia to participate, but were quickly told that they weren’t welcome.
“The trainer approached us, and she was really nice, but she told us, ‘I just want to be upfront. This organization has never placed a child with a same-sex couple,” Paszko told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “She told us she didn’t want to waste two hours of our time.”
It seems that Bethany Christian Services, the agency Paszko and her wife were applying to, and another agency called Catholic Social Services have a strict policy of rejecting LGBTQ parents.
While the Bethany Christian Services was “polite” in its rejection and gave the names of other agencies, their act does nothing but harm Philadelphia children desperately in need of a home.
Philadelphia is currently seeking out more people to become foster parents, yet Christian organizations like Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services are rejecting LGBTQ people who want nothing more than to help.
Outside of talk of discrimination and going against the needs of children, this act is also against government policy.
As Mary Catherine Roper, the deputy legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told the Inquirer:
“A government doesn’t get to use a contractor to implement religious programs and when you start saying, ‘We’re running this as a religious program such that we won’t take you because you don’t fit our religious view,’ then the city is paying for a religious program, and that’s a problem under the First Amendment.”
On top of that, Bethany Christian Services collected $1.3 million from the government last year for operating foster homes covering 170 children. Thus, the government is financially backing this organization that’s used religion as its focus for the past 75 years.
On top of this, there seems to also be a layer of hypocrisy in Bethany’s actions.
Due to Pennsylvania’s state code, LGBTQ children can’t be discriminated against by foster/adoption agencies. This has led to Christian organizations like Bethany working with LGBTQ youth while later rejecting LGBTQ adults.
In response to all this, Currey Cook, the head of Lambda Legal’s Youth in Out-of-home Care Project, said:
“How do you pretend you can simultaneously say we serve all youth and do a good job serving all youth while at the same time you’re saying same-sex couples are not real parents, are not good parents?” Cook said. “LGBT youth who have faced so much isolation, stigma, prejudice in the system are left wondering, ‘What’s going to happen if I come out, and I’m being served by parents or an agency that basically says trans parents, LGBT people, aren’t good parents?'”
As the Inquirer reports, Paszko and her wife are now in the process of becoming foster parents with the help of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, but they can't help feeling distraught by the earlier rejection.