Romney Misses The Point On Adoption
by Scott Shields, Tue Mar 14, 2006 at 09:57:13 AM EST
Up in Massachusetts, there's an interesting debate going on about adoption and discrimination. At issue is whether or not religious groups involved in adoption services should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples who want to adopt. Catholic Charities of Boston has announced they will no longer provide adoption services rather than comply with state anti-discrimination laws that prohibit them from rejecting gay and lesbian couples interested in adopting. In response, Governor Mitt Romney, a 2008 contender, wants to exempt religious organizations from such laws. He's tried to play both sides of the issue, saying that even though he believes there is a "legitimate interest" on the part of gay couples in adoption, subjecting Catholic Charities to the law represents a "threat to religious freedom."
I take serious, serious issue with Romney's characterization of adoption. He views it not as a service of necessity to children who need solid families, but as a service of convenience to would-be parents. While he acknowledges that same-sex couples are likely to view his position as discriminatory, he points out that there are non-religious "agencies that can meet the needs of those gay couples." In this case, I understand what Romney's trying to say, but he clearly just does not get the issue. Sure, there are other adoption agencies besides Catholic Charities that gay couples can turn to.
The problem, however, is that this move threatens to shrink the pool of good parents available to children who desperately need them. Oddly enough, it seems the forty two members of the board of Catholic Charities agree with my assessment, voting unanimously in December to continue placing children with same-sex couples for adoption. When it was announced a few weeks ago that the organization was going to halt the practice anyway, seven prominent board members quit.
In covering the story of the board member resignations, The Boston Globe examined the thirteen cases of adoption by gay couples handled by Catholic Charities of Boston over a two-decade period. All of the children "were considered hard to place, either because they were older or because they had special needs." And that is the point here. In 2003, there were roughly 120,000 children in public foster care waiting to be adopted in the United States. Romney apparently doesn't get that this isn't about meeting the desires of couples, gay or straight. It's about meeting the needs of children who need strong families, gay or straight.