A religious liberty attorney says the case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall could end with a landmark ruling in the fight over LGBT rights and religious liberty.
In the state of Virginia, meanwhile, liberal Democratic legislators determined to increase restrictions on firearm ownership, and free the state from abortion laws, have passed legislation that mirrors many others across the country, including the one that led to the Supreme Court appeal.
The high court case, Fulton v City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will review whether Catholic Social Services (CSS) can be restricted from participating in the state’s foster care system while adhering to biblical beliefs about marriage and family.
"I am thrilled that the Supreme Court is taking this," says attorney Randall Wenger of Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center. "The Church shouldn't be asked to give up what the Bible says about marriage, and that's really what this case is about."
Becket, a religious liberty law firm, is representing CCS in its legal battle.
In the Virginia legislature, meanwhile, Democrats pushed through a bill this week that critics say is a state-level version of the federal Equality Act.
Sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin, the legislation prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public or private employment, public spaces, and credit transactions. It also lays out causes of action that would allow individuals, or in certain circumstances the state attorney general, to sue over alleged discrimination.
Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign the measure which, if it follows the progressive pattern across the country, would punish Christian business owners whose faith runs afoul of a new non-discrimination law that literally outlaws their closely-held beliefs.
The case on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, in fact, can be traced back to the City of Philadelphia’s non-discrimination ordinance which has been upheld twice in lower courts after CCS sued.
Back in Virginia, Victoria Cobb of the Family Foundation of Virginia says her group is asking Gov. Northam to exempt “people of faith” from falling under the power of the state government. One example she gives is a private Christian school with a policy requiring single-sex restrooms.
“Because it does fly,” she says, “in the face of the First Amendment.”
Yet the Fulton v City of Philadelphia case demonstrates that defenders of non-discrimination laws have moved beyond business owners who attend church to the church itself, and to date the courts have overwhelmingly sided with the pro-LGBT argument.
Wenger tells OneNewsNow that a Supreme Court ruling against Catholic Social Services would impact many other faith-based operations.
"The precedent of this case goes much further than just adoption or foster care,” he warns, “and it really has to do with the independence of church-based ministries to follow the convictions of the churches that they're associated with.”