Berman & Asbel, LLP

Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Pennsylvania But There Are Still Challenges

The right of nearly all adults to marry in Pennsylvania is a matter of law and has been since 2014, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. That does not mean that all existing walls of discrimination against same-sex couples have come tumbling down. Four years later, headlines claiming alleged discrimination still abound.

Just last month, the city of Philadelphia announced a decision to suspend city funding to two faith-based foster care agencies because they refused to work with LGBT individuals or couples desiring to become foster parents.

It's a legal reality that children of heterosexual couples have automatic protections by statute. But the same cannot always be said for same-sex couples seeking to start a family. A woman in a lesbian relationship who conceives through assisted reproduction is the biological parent of the child. The legal relationship between the child and the other parent is not automatically recognized and requires working with a knowledgable attorney to obtain the desired recognition.

As a recent Inquirer story reflects, challenges can also surface when a same-sex couple wants to foster or adopt a child.

According to the report, the two agencies - Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services - have received $3 million in city funds each year. The language of the city contracts states that the service providers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. However, it is alleged that Bethany Christian Services rejected a same-sex couple as foster parents last October. Catholic Social Services has acknowledged that it, too, doesn't accept LGBT individuals for fostering roles.

This situation is not unique to Pennsylvania as similar reports have appeared across the country. These two examples highlight the fact that despite anti-discrimination laws, it is necessary that you be personally proactive in protecting your rights. Seek the help of the attorneys at Berman & Asbel, LLP who stand ready to help you.

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