Barronelle Stutzman
Discriminatory florist, Barronelle Stutzman

via Alliance Defending Freedom

Tuesday, Alliance Defending Freedom sent out an email linking to an August post on their blog: How a Supreme Court Case on Foster Care May Affect Barronelle Stutzman. The author of this jeremiad is Maureen Collins. Given that readers have no influence on the Supreme Court I suppose that the appeal is for donations.

The age of Trump: Conservatives can say whatever the fuck they want without being held accountable for their mendacity. I am hopeful that, in November, we can send a message that lying is unacceptable.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a self-righteous anti-LGBTQ hate group. The hate is coupled with a steaming pile of bullshit.

Barronelle to Sharonell

Sharonell Fulton is a devoted foster parent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Philadelphia Is Wrongly Preventing Sharonell From Fostering Children in Need

In the past 25 years, Sharonell Fulton has cared for more than 40 foster children in her home. “Mostly what I’ve done is emergency placement …”

Philadelphia is enforcing its nondiscrimination policy. After all, foster and adoptive care agencies do the work of the state with taxpayers’ money. In other words, Catholic Charities, if it wishes to provide these services, doesn’t get a special license to discriminate against gay couples, Jewish couples, Muslim couples or anyone else that it does not approve of.

This is not about the self-centered Sharonell Fulton

This is about the children who need foster and adoptive homes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out:

  1. The greater the size of the pool of foster and adoptive parents, the greater the likelihood that children in “The System” will have homes and;
  2. discrimination beyond an ability to parent reduces the size of the pool and;
  3. the science is settled that gay couples are just as good as straight couples at parenting.

I hate to be cynical but fostering children is gainful employment for some people. The City of Philadelphia pays foster parents between $140.00 and $250.00 tax free per week per child, depending upon their age.

According to local media there is an urgent need for foster and adoptive homes for LGBTQ kids. Not only does discrimination reduce the size of the pool but it eliminates parents who might be most suitable for sexually-diverse children and adolescents.

The order of importance would seem to be:

  1. The minors.
  2. Adoptive and foster parents.
  3. Lastly, the agency contracting with the city.

I still want to know how “Philadelphia Is Wrongly Preventing Sharonell From Fostering Children in Need.” Here’s the “nice try” if you believe Christianist rhetoric:

Remarkably, … the city cut ties with Catholic Social Services and the close to 100 different foster families that the agency serves—including Sharonell.

According to the city, losing Catholic Social Services as a provider had no negative impact on children. CSS placed about 260 kids in 2017, roughly 2 percent of the total in care in Philadelphia. The city contracts with 29 agencies to license foster care homes for nearly 5,000 children.

I hate to ruin things by introducing arithmetic. However, if each of those 29 agencies serviced fewer than six children per year — less than one additional child every two months — they cover the loss of Catholic Social Services.

Not only is the effect trivial in numbers of kids but those 29 other agencies do not discriminate so they are dealing with a larger supply of qualified potential parents.

Therefore, the obvious question is this: Why has Sharonell Fulton not registered with the 29 other agencies? The answer to that question probably relates to ADF needing to manufacture a victim.

ADF uses weasel words:

It didn’t matter that, on an average day, Catholic Social Services served more than 120 children in foster care. … Philadelphia put politics ahead of kids, kicking loving foster parents like Sharonell to the curb while leaving countless children stranded in need of loving homes.

“Served” means keeping tabs on the kids that the agency placed in foster care. Again, the total placed in 2017 was just 260 kids. Furthermore, nothing precludes Ms. Fulton from getting foster kids from other agencies (I gather that Fulton is a full-time professional foster parent).

Fulton, by the way, is a petitioner in the case before the Supreme Court. She joins Toni Lynn
Simms-Busch (a foster parent) and Catholic Social Services. The federal district court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals have already ruled in favor of the city. Plaintiffs are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The American Bar Association filed an amicus brief in favor of the respondents and has published a very readable synopsis at the ABA Journal.

What does any of this have to do with the bigoted florist who wanted some attention?

The very real danger here is that the Supreme Court might revisit the 1990 ruling in Employment Division v. Smith. In that case the Court ruled that a religious duty does not serve to provide an exception to a law.

Justice Scalia, who wrote the opinion for the majority succinctly stated that “there are no religious exemptions to otherwise valid laws.” Such exemptions would create havoc and could cause problems with things such as taxation.

Smith is a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence. If overturned it could serve to provide people like Barronelle Stutzman with a license to discriminate.

In the original complaint before the district court, Becket attempts to establish Article III standing for the two foster parents by claiming:

… [they] risk losing the opportunity to foster additional children, including
biological siblings of her current foster children, in the future.

Terminating the contract results in those children being placed by other agencies whom Fulton is seemingly free to register with.

They go on to write:

Ms. Fulton shares the religious beliefs of Catholic Social Services. As an
African American woman, Ms. Fulton has experienced discrimination in her life. It
is insulting and hurtful for her to observe the government of the city in which she
lives needlessly denigrate and publicly condemn her own religious beliefs in such a
discriminatory fashion.

The above is irrelevant, self-serving gibberish. No one is denigrating her religious beliefs by enforcing a nondiscrimination law. Fulton is free not to foster children. Furthermore this cuts both ways. Fulton has disclosed (in my opinion) that she would be an unsuitable foster parent for LGBTQ children.

Collins goes on to write:

It’s harming foster parents like Sharonell Fulton who want to continue providing loving homes for children in need. It’s harming society’s most vulnerable children, those in need of a forever family. And it’s hurting business owners like Barronelle Stutzman who simply want to continue serving their communities without compromising their religious beliefs.

Fulton is free to continue to foster children. Instead of harming, the city is benefiting children by making more qualified foster parents available.

None of this harms Stutzman. She does not have a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. She is hurting herself by turning away revenues.

Suppose the Court does revisit Smith. While that might nullify Washington State’s ordinance, it would not provide Stutzman with a nickel in additional revenues.

If anything Stutzman shot her big toe by making it well known that she is a bigot. Many people who are not LGBTQ do not want to patronize a bigot.

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