17 August 2008

Side Effects of Gay Marriage

Now that it's been a bit since the Prop 8 thing started, I've been doing a little reading here and there on the issue. I consider myself the ideal centrist when it comes to politics, because I'm not so pig-headed one way or the other on issues that I'm not willing to see what the other side has to say. I'm willing to do research or discuss an issue, and change my opinion on it as I gain further knowledge and understanding. I learned something today that put a little bit of an itch in me to change my views on Prop 8. Not enough to convince me to vote yes, but it made me start thinking in even broader terms about the issue.

An innocent bystander that will be hurt by the legalization of gay marriage is adoption. But, not in the way you may be thinking right now. No, I don't think that a gay couple is any less capable of raising a child. That's not the issue. The issue with adoption is that of the social services that exist to place children in homes.

Religious organizations are a HUGE avenue for adoption. I couldn't find any real numbers on it, but when you look at the number of adoption agencies there are out there it certainly seems that the Catholics, Mormons and Evangelical Christians bear the larger burden of placing children in loving homes. The government is heavily reliant on these non-profit organizations to do this charitable work.

Due to the beliefs in traditional family structure, these organizations do not place children in homes of gay couples (I've heard, but not verified, that they usually don't place children into homes of single people either - but I could be wrong on that). Because of this fact, the Catholic, Mormon and Evangelical Christian groups that deal with adoption have withdrawn their services from the state of Massachusetts. The have done this because of discrimination lawsuits that have arisen since the legalization of gay marriage there. They refuse to place children in the homes of gay couples due to their religious stances, and the ACLU is going to town on them under the banner of anti-discrimination. So, to not get tangled up in legal battles like that, they have elected to withdraw their services from that state.

That is really sad to me to think that there are so many children in that state that no longer have the support of so many adoption agencies to try and place them in loving homes, due to those agencies fears of being exposed to costly lawsuits. Now those children have to wait on state resources, and waiting on the state to do something for you is never a good thing.

I'm all for equal legal protection of same-sex couples under the law. Heck, even the church in it's statement last week about it's stance against gay marriage was willing to concede state-recognized legal rights for those couples:

The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference. The Divine Institution of Marriage

But, I want those equal rights to come in such a way so that they don't infringe on other people's rights to continue practicing their religions they way they choose to. Why can't same-sex couples in California be content with the fact that they have pretty much every right that married couples do, even if it's not called "marriage"?

Score one for the "Yes on 8" group.


Josh said...

Wouldn't this be the time that other non-profit adoption agencies step up to the plate?

Dichotomy said...

I admit that this is the one area in the Prop 8 battle that I am woefully ignorant in, so it's entirely possible that my understanding of this is incorrect...

However, here's how I understand the adoption issue in Mass. has played out: A Catholic adoption placement agency which was receiving state funding opted to close its doors when the state began to question its decision to not place adopted children in the homes of gay couples.

It is my understanding that this had nothing to do with gay marriage, specifically. It was simply a matter of a state-funded agency discriminating in a manner that the state did not approve of. The agency could have continued to operate with their own placement rules using other funding sources, or they could have continued to use state funds and ceased discriminating. They chose instead to close down.

It's entirely possible that the ACLU would get involved and try to make things difficult for religion-backed placement agencies in other parts of the country where gay marriage becomes legal. I would hope that in cases where the agencies are not funded by state money any court would rule that they had the right to place children as they saw fit. When taxpayers are paying the agencies bills, though, I don't see any problem with requiring the agency to follow government-mandated non-discriminatory guidelines.

Please let me know if I've misunderstood any of the details.

Jay said...

My understanding is the same as that of Dichotomy. If you want state or federal funds you have to play by their rules.

Superstar said...

LDS Family Services is an extremely rigid agency, and it bases adoption placements in Utah on any number of factors that are even impossible for most married LDS couples to achieve.

Full tithing payment, consistent church activity, Word of Wisdom compliance, a marriage that has lasted a set number of years, financial earnings minimums, and a host of other factors determine whether LDS Family Services will even consider a couple for placement.

Single people and many, many other couples are not even considered.

This strict stance has never precluded LDS Family Services from operating as it sees fit in Utah.

No law can force a religious organization to change its principles or beliefs.

I'd like to see you write more about any references or specific information you may have, though.

Max Power said...

One would hope so, but for some reason I have doubts they would because of funding constraints.

That's exactly the point. No church should be forced to change it's doctrine, so they relinquished the funding from the state. Without the state funding for their service, they didn't have the money to continue operating. The question now is, could the Catholic church have ponied up the cash to continue operating without state funds? I'm not their CFO, so I couldn't even begin to answer that.

And yes, hopefully those agencies that aren't receiving state funding could still operate in a business-as-usual manner, no matter what their criteria for placement.

Thanks for you wisdom. ;)

I actually have a friend that recently moved to Boston. I asked her to look into this for me and see if LDS Socail Services really did stop operating in Mass. You know how the rumor mill work at church, I could totally have been fed a load of crap yesterday. :)

Rich said...

When asking if LDS Family Services really did stop operating in Mass., make sure you are referring to their adoption services. LDS Family Services offers a lot more services than just adoption, so it is very possible that they aren't in the "adoption business" per se, but still have offices to provide other services, such counseling.

Kengo Biddles said...

I hadn't thought of this point. Thanks for bringing it forward, Max.

Max Power said...


I was specific in my inquiry with regards to LDS adoption services. I'm sure that LDS Social Services still performs all of their other services in Mass.

Superstar said...

I called LDS Family Services in Salt Lake City. Barb in Salt Lake told me the Massachusetts branch in Nashua still provides adoption services and is available at (603) 889-0148.

Max Power said...


Now I know why you go by that name. :D

Thanks for the sleuthing. Was it just that particular branch that does adoptions, or do they still do it all over the state? Or, do they only have one location where that is handled? Were you able to have much of a conversation with them, or did you just get that basic question answered?

Kristine said...

This came up recently on another blog, and was pretty thoroughly investigated by a couple of Mass. attorneys. Here's a quick rundown of what they found:

NO legal action was taken against Catholic Charities, nor was any contemplated. It would theoretically have been possible to sue them under anti-discrimination laws (not related to the marriage ruling), but this had not occurred, nor is there any suggestion that any suits were pending.

Catholic Charities had major internal divisions around this issue--the agency had, in fact, placed at least a dozen children with gay couples, and several members of the board were in favor of continuing such placements. Two of them resigned from the board over the decision not to place children with gays.

Long story short--neither the state of Massachusetts nor the ACLU nor any gay rights groups did anything to precipitate Catholic Charities' decision. They may have done it to avoid *potential* litigation, but there was no immediate legal pressure placed on them, and it is just as likely that internal politics were the primary motivation in their decision.

LDS Social Services is still operating in Massachusetts. Although it could probably be sued for its discriminatory practices, there's no evidence that legal action is pending or contemplated against the agency.

Max Power said...

Thanks Kristine. Do you have a link to that other blog where this was discussed?

Kristine said...

Sorry--I just checked my source again, and the discussion was actually on a private list-serv. Here's a pretty good article from the Globe, though: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/03/11/catholic_charities_stuns_state_ends_adoptions/

Scot said...

"Do you have a link to that other blog where this was discussed?"

Max, I just posted on this and I have links to references at the bottom of the post, here.

Kristine, has it right, save for the number of people who resigned; I read 8 in the article. There's other information I found that makes the use of this as a PR tool against marriage for same-sex couples even more troubling.

I also checked the adoptions stats. In the year during half of which this happened (all the data we have) adoptions went up a bit and were even processed more quickly. There were no harmful effects seen for children, and CCB still offers some adoption services; check out their web site.