Monday, July 04, 2011

The truth about adoption services post marriage equality

One of the talking points emanating from Team Homophobia that's been circulating ever since NY passed marriage equality is that religious-based groups that serve the public would be "forced" to shut down if it doesn't recognize marriage equality. That couldn't be further from the truth. These people point to Massachusetts and the fact that the Boston Archdiocese forced the shut down of Catholic Charities adoption services as "proof" of this ridiculous claim, though that's not in fact what happened. Here's what did:

Catholic Charities had, for decades, allowed gay couples to adopt children, predating marriage. The Boston Archdiocese either didn't care about it or didn't know, though given that it went on for twenty years, the latter would be saying a lot.

Meanwhile, while Catholic Charities was a religious charity, it received a tremendous amount of public aid, including from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to process those adoptions. It is true that it would be illegal for any groups that took public funds to discriminate against same-sex marriages post Goodridge decision, but it's equally true it would have been illegal to discriminate against gays or lesbians beforehand -- and two decades of history of Catholic Charities allowing gays and lesbians to adopt shows they never had much of a problem with it before.

As the decision on what to do about marriage equality was cycling through the then-Finneran dominated legislature, the fact that Catholic Charities was already allowing same-sex couples to adopt became a story, embarrassing the Catholic Church and its claims that somehow allowing same-sex couples to raise children would be damaging to those children, so the bishops across Massachusetts forced the board of Catholic Charities to put the kibosh on all their adoptions, despite some pretty vehement resistance from that board.

The Catholic Church then tried to use that decision as a vehicle in the press to curry favor with the public, insisting it was marriage equality's fault that they had to stop the adoptions, but they were, of course, the ones who stopped those adoptions. They were the ones who decided, after allowing gays and lesbians to adopt using Catholic Charities for two decades, they suddenly had to stop.

Furthermore, the Catholic Church still could have banned same-sex couples from adopting children within their Catholic Charities service had it decided to merely stop taking public funds. It would have been difficult for them to make that decision -- Massachusetts practically bankrolled those adoptions to begin with -- but there's no reason for any state to provide public funds to a charity which wants to discriminate against some of those it caters toward.

Far from creating a public rallying cry, the Boston Archdiocese only further embarrassed itself, and alienated the people of this Commonwealth, providing ample evidence to the public that they'd go so far as to put difficult-to-place children at risk for political calculations and/or spite, but it stuck to its guns. It would be a shame today to allow that story to be recycled and reshaped in true Orwellian fashion to fit their meme, now that what happened has been forgotten by most of the public.

If the Catholic Church's charities that use public funds wish to discriminate against same-sex couples (even to this day, most don't), then they have a very simple solution available to them: stop taking public funds. Shutting down shop, trying to score political points, is a very heavy price to pay for the thousands of children across the country who need to find good homes.

PS. I wanted to include some links, so I did a little googling and found this blog from GLAD, with this story from the Boston Globe, that confirms most of the facts from above, although there's still some of what was floating around in my head from the way-back machine, coming from a period that predate (most) blogs and links.

1 comment:

massmarrier said...

On both coasts, as well as England, RC adoption agencies, under orders from church pols, made business decisions. They refused to fund the adoptions, which they alleged were crucial to their religious missions. They had the legal right to fund adoptions and then refuse gay couple's, but did not. The "forced to shut down" lie continues in the winger community.

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