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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Family matters

"Our responsibility to the children comes first." Those words, spoken recently by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with regard to same-sex adoptions, might be the most dubious yet in his long career in politics. For if Romney's true concern is for the parentless children, why is he seeking to allow one of Massachusetts' largest adoption agencies, Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities, to bar same-sex couples from its adoption services?

On Monday, Romney stated his intention to draft what he described as a "very narrow" bill that would let Catholic Charities and other religious groups exclude gay couples from their adoption services if including them would run counter to their religious beliefs.

Monday's remarks came after Catholic Charities decided last Friday to end its 103-year-old adoption program due to state anti-discrimination laws requiring that adoption services be provided to same-sex couples. Defending these groups on the basis of religious freedom, Romney seeks to provide them with an exemption from Massachusetts' anti-discrimination laws.

Where to begin? It is abhorrent that Catholic Charities, which according to Reuters handles 31 percent of Massachusetts adoptions, is willing to completely end its adoption program in order to make a political statement. If the Catholic Church truly cared about children, it would try its best to place them in the care of any loving family - regardless of sexual orientation.

Romney's claim that his proposed bill would defend religious freedom is absolutely laughable. He says that a fundamental tenet of Catholicism is that marriage is between a man and a woman and that children should not be sent to homes without both a mother and father.

But what if this all-important Catholic belief stated that children should not be sent to homes without a white mother and father? Would such a racist principle deserve to be upheld on the basis of religious freedom? Of course not. So why should the case be any different with regard to sexual orientation?

Catholic Charities adoption services are state-regulated for good reason, and as such, they must abide by all of the laws of the state - no exceptions.

Anti-discrimination laws are good in and of themselves, but particularly when applied to adoption agencies. Such groups can little afford to discriminate in any way when selecting parents, as there is an overwhelming need for parents in general.

To quote U.S. representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is openly gay, the question is not who will adopt the child, but rather "whether the child will be adopted at all."

Romney is not an evil man who hates children; he is merely misguided. He believes that the "ideal family" is composed of Mommy, Daddy and Junior (with or without the family dog Spot). That is why, when he says "our responsibility to the children comes first," he means it. In Romney's mind, he is putting the children first by defending Catholic Charities because children are better off with a mommy and a daddy.

But according to an American Psychological Association report in 1995, "There is no evidence to suggest that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents... Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."

And according to the 2004 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, "on measures of psychosocial well-being, school functioning, and romantic relationships and behaviors, teens with same-sex parents are as well adjusted as their peers with opposite-sex parents. A more important predictor of teens' psychological and social adjustment is the quality of the relationships they have with their parents."

Although there is still much research to be done, it would appear that Romney's belief is flat-out wrong.

If Romney truly cares about children, he must practice what he preaches and try to convince the Boston Archdiocese to reconsider its position on closing their adoptive services.

Explain to them the scientific evidence; inform them of the need for parents willing to adopt; remind them that as recently as December 2005, Catholic Charities' own 42-member board voted unanimously to allow same-sex adoptions.

If this approach fails, perhaps the Archdiocese would agree to work with secular adoption agencies that would handle same-sex couples, only receiving minor assistance from Catholic Charities.

The point is that Romney cannot allow Catholic Charities to discontinue their adoption services, nor can he allow Massachusetts' antidiscrimination laws to be applied inconsistently. There is a solution, and it is up to Romney to put his 2008 presidential campaign on hold and find it.