Catholic Charities in Illinois Sue For Right To Exclude Gays from Adopting
Three Catholic Charities in Illinois are seeking an emergency injunction that would protect religious agencies who exclude gay and lesbian couples from adopting children or becoming foster parents. These dioceses are suing the Illinois Attorney General and the Department of Family Services for enforcing a week-old policy that accommodates civil unions. The dioceses wish to legally deny partners in civil unions the right to adopt children. Though the suit does not specifically point to homosexuals, we all know who these charities wish to rid themselves of when placing children in homes.
In March, the attorney general’s office issued a letter stating that the office “had received notice that Catholic Charities discriminates against Illinois citizens based on marital status and sexual orientation” in the provision of foster care and adoption services. The Attorney General ordered Catholic Charities to submit a wide range of documents in response to the complaint.
Making matters more complicated is the fact that these agencies are publicly funded.
Not surprisingly, the National Organization on Marriage (NOM) is heralding this news as a case of “religious liberty.” Funny how the word “liberty” can be used in a discrimination case that undermines the liberty of gay parents. NOM has posted several pieces that speak out against same-sex parenting claiming that this arrangement denies children the right to have both a mother and a father, which is their ideal family configuration.
This is a fallacious argument on many levels, but particularly because these same charities allow single couples who live apart to adopt. If parenting requires both a mother and a father, why not ban all single people from adopting? And what about widows and widowers? Should they relinquish their children once they become single parents? Clearly, the civil union aspect of this suit is directed at gays and lesbians who are prohibited form marrying in most states and therefore are forced to resort to civil unions.
I could rant about how this infuriates me. I could laud my gay friends who have lovingly raised children to be no more screwed up than anyone else’s kids. I could rail against the injustice of not being permitted to marry the one you love. Instead I will refer to empirical research. Much of what follows I gleaned from a 2009 research study by Charlotte J. Patterson, Phd, for the American Psychological Association, titled Lesbian and Gay Parenting. The research is exhaustive and can be read in its entirety here. www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting.aspx#
1. There is absolutely no empirical foundation for the belief that lesbians and gay men make unfit parents. (Patterson, 2009; Anderssen, Amlie, & Ytteroy, 2002)
2. There is no difference between lesbian and heterosexual mothers with regard to their overall mental health or their approaches to child-rearing. Lesbians’ romantic and sexual relationships have not been found to detract from their ability to care for their children. This holds true for gay men as well. (Bos et al., 2004)
3. Bos’ research as well as several other studies conclude that both lesbian and male gay couples have been shown to divide household chores more evenly than their heterosexual counterparts, and they also report higher satisfaction as couples.
4. In contrast to patterns categorizing the majority of American parents, very few of the gay parents in a recent study of 256 gay households reported the use of physical punishment in disciplining their children. Most employ positive measures such as reasoning.
To summarize a lengthy paper, lesbian and gay parents are just as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive, loving family environments in which to raise their children. As for the children of these same-sex couples, research has not found any evidence that they are at all impaired in their psycho-social development. According to Patterson, not a single study has shown these children to be significantly disadvantaged in any respect. In fact, the opposite is true. Children of lesbian and gay parents are every bit as likely to live in a supportive, caring household as their friends with heterosexual parents.
What about bullying when these children hit adolescence? Not much research exists on this topic because extensive study on gay parenting is fairly recent so the children being observed are still quite young. But I wonder who isn’t bullied these days? It seems to me if these children are provided a safe haven with loving, concerned parents they’ll survive like the rest of us too tall, too fat, too ugly, too shy, Jewish, Italian, Asian, African-American, Irish uncoordinated, bookwormish, big-nosed, small breasted people did.
The best thing we can do for our children is to want them. Given what gay parents have to go through in order to have a child, (surrogacy, adoption, sperm banks, etc…) how could their children feel anything but wanted? The fact that those Catholic Charities would rather let a child remain an orphan than be adopted by gays in committed relationships, is appalling, and not what I think anybody’s God had in mind.
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