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  • Crushing Venerable Adoption Agencies—and Religious Liberty

    Illinois’s and New York’s recent recognition of same-sex couples has raised religious liberty concerns for Catholic and other agencies providing adoption and foster care services. Now, more than 50 Members of the U.S. Congress have signed onto a bill that would go much further, posing a challenge to religious liberty, civil society, federalism, and the best interests of children.

    Originally introduced by Representative Pete Stark (D–CA) in 2009, the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” would deny federal funds to any adoption agency that “discriminates” against prospective adoptive or foster parents on the basis of their “sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.” The bill would both de-fund and de-legitimize Catholic adoption agencies and others nationwide that represent some of the nation’s most experienced and venerable providers.

    The bill was reintroduced in May as H.R. 1681, and among its cosponsors are core members of the congressional liberal brass: former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA), former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman (D–CA), and former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Barney Frank (D–MA).

    The passage of a same-sex marriage law in New York has fueled speculation about whether Catholic and other faith-based adoption agencies in the Empire State have a religious exemption from its effects. At least one prominent scholar argues that the law’s exemption language, written behind closed doors, is so “badly drafted” that the answer is unclear. These religious charities, many a century or more in operation, may soon be forced to choose between closure or violating their core beliefs about the nature of the family and the role of mothers and fathers in child well-being.

    Ambiguous as the New York statute may be, some advocates for same-sex marriage have been very clear in other contexts that religious liberty concerns about same-sex marriage can be dismissed. To date, Catholic adoption agencies have been closed in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois after adoption of homosexual marriage or civil union legislation. Operating in tandem with sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws, these new statutes have effectively nullified state licenses and funding of these agencies.

    While New York’s action on same-sex marriage may leave some doubt about the fate of Catholic social services for children, the Stark bill removes all doubt: They’re out.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Crushing Venerable Adoption Agencies—and Religious Liberty

    1. Bobbie says:

      Once again, the democrats interfere to cause problems to some while unconstitutionally protecting their ideology, in direct conflict with the will of ALL PRINCIPLES PEOPLE!!!!

    2. Paul says:

      Neither bill poses any danger to religious liberty. Catholic adoption agencies are still free to only place children in homes of opposite sex married couples and do other charitable work. They will no longer be able to take tax money from hard working American citizens and refuse to provide services that the state is paying them to provide to ALL it's citizens. It's really very simple, and this article is a gross mischaracterization

      • James says:

        As someone from Illinois, I would ask that you research this a bit more before making statements such as "take tax money from hard working American citizens and refuse to provide services". The Church is not taking tax money from anyone, they are contracted by the state of Illinois to provide foster and adoption care services just like many other foster and adoption agencies throughout the state. When unmarried couples would come to the Catholic agency they were referred to one of the other agencies who would provide those services to them. This has been the practice for years and the contract the Church had with the state allowed it. Your comment implies that the Church was doing something against the desire of the state and they simply were not.

        The real tragedy here is that religious charities tend to be the most cost-effective due to many facts, one being that to them they aren't working for a business or a non-profit but fulfilling a higher calling. Now that the state of Illinois is no longer allowed to contract with the Church, the cost of providing these services for needy kids will increase and because of the terrible budget and debt issues in Illinois it's going to mean that more of those kids in need will have to remain in need.

      • Lawrence says:

        Paul…
        Actually you are quite correct regarding the true issue being about tax dollars, but your point errs on the side of over simplification. The reality is that the states, and potentially the federal governments are not simply separating the line between church and state, but ARE looking to restrict religious liberty via policy and process. Take IL as an example: In order to provide adoption or foster care services (regardless of whether state funding is received), you must be a licensed organization. To be licensed, you must abide by the applicable CU laws which MANDATE certain policies (of which some can be characterized as religious liberties). Therefore, organizations that desire to keep their religious liberty yet disagree with what the STATE decides is acceptable as liberty are not able to practice (or run the risk of the state filing suit).

        Equal protection under the law should extend in a myriad of directions in a free society. Catholic Charities (and the many others that will soon cease to exist as a result of the lack of funding) are not asking for special protection or funding, but to simply be able to continue providing services as they have for decades. If new agencies arise that are less 'faith based', secular, or pro-CU then so be it…that is a result of a free, or capital, society. In fact, in the end the more help that can be provided to children in need the better.

        What is alarming to me, is that this issue seems to be the result of an clearly political issue, more specifically focused on health-care or death benefits rights, and now children who need definite care are going to suffer. It's not as if the thousand of children who have received care through CC (and other like-minded groups) was not real and effective care. The state has effectively said that is the case, and now the reality of litigation, removal of funds, and the forced adherence to debatable policy has now 'over-governed'. I would have preferred a compromise that would let society 'at large' determine (by who we choose to work with) which agencies survive.

      • Ann says:

        FALSE, Paul. State law in MA requires compliance by the Catholic Church with or without state money. No legislator ( including then Governor Romney ) was willing to grant the Church an exemption from the law in order to make adoptions possible to heterosexual couples only. So, the Church was mandated by state law to implement a policy that goes directly against its own teachings. This is a danger to religious liberty, for sure. Get your facts straight.

    3. Bobbie says:

      If it wasn't TO IMPOSE it wouldn't have come to exist. So we're obligated to fund strangers choice to kill human fetuses and pay the costs of irresponsible people, but the catholic charities, productive to society with proof, pose a danger? It's just that simple!
      The devil convinces weakness, makes it so and that there's no "hope" without him…

    4. Red says:

      I find it unconscionable to deny children what would be a loving home on the simple basis that their parents would be of the same sex.

      You could claim that 'children do best in a two parent-one mom, one dad-household all you want, but the fact is, many, many homes ARE just one mom or just one dad. It's a reality of the world we live in.

      • James says:

        @Red – In Illinois no one is denying same sex couples, or non-married cohabitating couples the right to adopt or be foster parents just that they will be referred to a non-Catholic agency. So if those couples still have a path to become adoptive or foster parents what's the basis for complete exclusion of the excellent services that the Catholic agencies do provide?

        As far as a comparison of two parent vs one parent households, even though the data shows that two parent households offer the best chance for providing for all the needs of a child, the Catholic agencies in IL do provide services for one parent, non cohabitating individuals.

      • coryphee says:

        If a same-sex couple walked into an adoption agency at the same time as a man-woman couple did, and the adoption agency had a preference between the two, that would also be considered illegal discrimination. So its not situations in which "children would be denied a home."

        And keep in mind, that this has nothing to do with discrimination against sexual orientation. Two straight men that are just friends may want to get married for benefits and adoption also. The agency couldn't prefer over them a man-woman couple who had trouble conceiving on their own due to infertility.

        It creates a godawful legal mess that makes no sense. Do you think most people who support same-sex marriage know that this is is the result of the law? Do you think they agree with it? If we did a poll, how many people do you think would agree to such a provision on adoption agencies?

        The issue has been badly mangled and dumbed down by politics and the press into an matter of bigotry vs. non-bigotry.

    5. Bobbie says:

      I find it unconscionable that a gay person would go out of their way to a catholic charity knowing their lifestyle is against the beliefs of the religion, when there are other government organizations without religious connotations to service them.

    6. Jessica says:

      Wow, when I originally heard about this issue I thought it was just an issue of denying state funding. But it sounds like religious agencies who refuse to compromise their beliefs about marriage/family will be denied state licensing and forced not to shut down!!!! This is a travesty, and definitely anti-religious liberty! If there are agencies that provide homosexuals and others with opportunities to adopt why can't they stand groups that don't agree at least being able to be licensed??? All I can come away with is that those who are pushing for this type of legislation do not want children being placed in homes by people or of people who disagree with their position. In short, they do not want those who adhere to the Biblical definition of marriage running adoption agencies or placing children in homes. It's so twisted…tolerance that only goes one direction for sure. And if Romney was for it in Massechusettes I don't trust him as far as I can throw him as a presidential candidate. I want to find out what can be done about this. It's terrible!!!

    7. Sage says:

      they should refuse to accept funds from a federal government that wants to force them to adopt children to homosexuals.

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