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History, law on side of LGBTQ Americans in SCOTUS religious exemption case, law expert says

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

LAWRENCE — The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in a case Nov. 4 that will have wide-ranging ramifications on anti-discrimination laws and the rights of LGBTQ Americans. The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, will determine whether a Catholic-run foster care agency is exempt from complying with a Philadelphia ordinance that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. The Catholic-run foster care agency argues that it may violate the ordinance by refusing to place foster children with same-sex couples because of its religious beliefs.

Kyle Velte, associate professor of law at the University of Kansas, was the primary author of an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court for the case. Velte is available to speak with media about the case, the arguments each side is presenting, anti-discrimination law, the effects the ruling will have, new justice Amy Coney Barrett’s presence for the case and related issues. 

“Tomorrow the court will take up its first major civil rights case since the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The stakes for LGBTQ Americans are high, but history and the law are on their side. Both history and law have seen this argument before — that one’s religious beliefs should exempt them from complying with civil rights law,” Velte said. “Since the 1960s, courts have rejected this argument when those providing goods or services sought to turn away African-American customers. Courts rejected that argument, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The court should rely on that race discrimination precedent to resolve the foster care case; to hold otherwise would create incoherence in the law and contravene the intent of the Philadelphia civil rights ordinance.”

Velte is an expert in sexual orientation, gender identity and the law, as well as employment discrimination. She has published several articles in law journals on the topics, including the Yale Law & Policy Review, Cardozo Law Review and Connecticut Law Review. Her amicus brief in the Fulton case outlines how racial discrimination precedent should apply to LGBTQ cases. She has filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in previous cases involving employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers, marriage equality and religious exemptions for wedding vendors who seek to deny goods and services to same-sex couples.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860, mkrings@ku.edu or @MikeKrings.