Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gay rights, Catholic rights, and adoption

Big battle brewing in Illinois:
Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.
Catholic bishops say they're fighting for their religious rights. “It’s true that the church doesn’t have a First Amendment right to have a government contract,” said one official, “but it does have a First Amendment right not to be excluded from a contract based on its religious beliefs.”

And if it were just about beliefs, I'd agree. But this is about practices. And the Catholic Church doesn't believe it can offer services in accordance with the rules and practices of the state that it ostensibly serves in providing adoption services. So Iowa is left with two choices: Adapt state policy to serve the Catholic Church's beliefs. Or let the Catholic Church withdraw and preserve its conscience.

That's a legitimate choice for the Catholic Church: It shouldn't do anything it considers evil. But I do find it sad that the church apparently believes that the lesser evil is to let a young child be without loving parents if those parents are gay. In the long run, maybe it's better that the church withdraw from this arena.

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