pageok
pageok
pageok
No Establishment Clause Violation in San Francisco's Condemning the Catholic Church's Refusal To Help With Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples:

So the Ninth Circuit has just held in Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights v. City and County of San Francisco. I argued likewise when the matter first arose, though I also disapproved of San Francisco's resolution on nonconstitutional grounds.

Randy R. (mail):
Perhaps instead of a resoluation condemning the church, it would have been better to urge it to reconsider and treat gays as human beings that have successfully parented adoptees many times in the past.

I wonder how much was spent on legal fees by the church to fight this? To what end? Gosh, I wonder how many children could have been adopted with that money.

Oh no -- how rude of me to insinuate that the church's highest priority*isn't* actually the adoption of needy children!
6.4.2009 12:46am
cmr:
[One-line, substance-free insult -- albeit a mild one -- of a fellow commenter deleted. Folks, let's keep this substantive; if you think someone is wrong, explaining why you think so is likely to be more effective than just saying that you think so. -EV]
6.4.2009 12:56am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Randy R.: (1) Unless I'm mistaken, the Catholic League is an independent organization, not a church.

(2) I would think that the Church would agree that the adoption of needy children is not its highest priority, though it would likely say that facilitating adoptions that (in the Church's view) maximally serve the children's physical, psychological, and spiritual needs is indeed a high priority.
6.4.2009 1:03am
Danny (mail):
Why should the gov't get into a theological debate with a religious organization? You can't win a religious debate with someone from another religion. The gov't takes these position statements on religions, i.e.
The Catholic church is homophobic
Islam is a religion of peace
Christian faith makes us moral
It is not un-Christian to pay war taxes
Who cares? Whether these statements are true or false, followers of these religions have to follow the law or accept the consequences. A better approach is to focus on the legal and social effects of speech or actions made by religious organizations rather than the specific supernatural claims made by those groups. When the Pope told HIV-ridden Africans to throw away the condoms, political leaders didn't say that his beliefs were crazy (we can all draw our own conclusions on that), they said that his words were "irresponsible" and "putting lives at risk". That seems to be a wiser approach, right?
6.4.2009 1:38am
Randy R. (mail):
(1) Then I wonder how they had standing to file suit?

(2) I disagree. If you are in the adoption business, then placing children who need parents should be taken very seriously, and placing them properly should be your highest priority. Few things are more important, no? If the church doesn't understand this, then why are they in the business of placing children?

Moreover, they had no problem placing adoptees with gay parents for quite some time, and, as has been noted earlier, many of the trustees objected when the church suddenly made a decision to no longer place in gay households.

Unless the church has some reason for doing so, and they didn't present any reason beyond "it's not our mission", then it smacks of a political decision. One day gays as a group are fine for adopting, the next day they are not. Now, that's all find and dandy, but when you play politics with children as the pawns, I would suggest that you are not taking the job seriously.

Worse, you are denying children a chance to be adopted into a loving and qualified household, and instead allowing more to wallow in foster care.

If the church wants to make political decisions on their operations, I have no objection. But I do object when they deny they are in fact doing so. And so I stand by my assertion that the church's adoption policies do not consider actual adoption as their highest priority, but making a political statement is at least as important as placing the kids.
6.4.2009 1:41am
Randy R. (mail):
And further stand by my statement that this is a waste of money which could be better used. But I also assert that the city was stupid in their wording, and that it certainly was offensive. They could have accomplished more with better sentiments and avoided a lawsuit altogether. It is also a waste of taxpayer money to defend such a statement.
6.4.2009 1:43am
Danny (mail):
It is totally, seriously against Catholic doctrine to help gay couples adopt. It's not a minor point. Believe me, B16 is my next door neighbor, I can catch Radio Vaticana on my door buzzer!
6.4.2009 1:44am
one of many:
Perhaps instead of a resoluation condemning the church, it would have been better for San Francisco to reconsider and treat Catholics as human beings that have successfully placed adoptees many times in the past.

I wonder how much was spent on legal fees by the city to fight this? To what end? Gosh, I wonder how many children could have been adopted with that money.

Oh no -- how rude of me to insinuate that the city's highest priority*isn't* actually the adoption of needy children!
6.4.2009 2:15am
Wilpert Aloysius Gobsmacked (mail):
It was a "gotcha" move by the city for which I "condemn" them. There, everything is even. Do we all feel better now?
6.4.2009 2:32am
Malvolio:
If you are in the adoption business, then placing children who need parents should be taken very seriously, and placing them properly should be your highest priority. Few things are more important, no?
I am not a Catholic and I know little about Catholic doctrine, but I would guess they think of their highest priority as saving souls. I would further speculate that they don't regard any placement as "proper" if it results the in child's soul burning in hellfire for all eternity.

Personally, I'm an atheist, so I obviously don't agree with them on a factual level, but there's no sense getting snide and pretending that the church is being inconsistent or illogical by following up on a belief system they have been cherishing for 2000 years.

What I want to know is, do I have cause of action against the SF supervisors for implying that I, as a "citizen of San Francisco", am in any way in agreement with their stupid, stupid resolution? Likewise, Catholics might want to consider suing their religious leaders for wasting donated money on the stupid, stupid lawsuit.
6.4.2009 2:38am
Perseus (mail):
I wonder how much was spent on legal fees by the church to fight this? To what end? Gosh, I wonder how many children could have been adopted with that money.

You might want to do your homework before you spout off. Based on its website, the Catholic League is basically the Catholic equivalent of the ADL ("the Catholic League works to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics whenever and wherever they are threatened"), which means that they probably aren't directly involved in adoptions. As for how they are funded: We don't receive a dime from the Church. Nor should we: we are a lay organization. So if they didn't spend the money on this suit, they probably would have spent it on some other one.
6.4.2009 2:49am
Dave3L (mail) (www):
Randy R. wrote:

Then I wonder how they had standing to file suit?

The plaintiffs claimed that as Catholics they were harmed by an anti-catholic government message, and their constitutional rights were thus somehow violated. I know of no constitutional right to not be harmed by government comments regarding your religion, as there is no precedent regarding such a right. However, they appear to find this claim under the Establishment Clause, and they presumably would have had taxpayer standing to file such a claim (regardless of the merits).

My guess is that the failure to base standing on taxpayer standing is because the Thomas More Law Center and the Catholic League are interested in establishing some theory under the Establishment Clause whereby individual Catholics can claim harm for defamation of their religion.
6.4.2009 2:53am
G Suiter (mail):
Speaking as a Catholic catechumen, I would like to confirm that the Catholic Church does indeed not see its highest priority as placing children (though as EV said, it is a high priority).

Malvolio's suggestion about the child and hellfire isn't perhaps spot on, but the idea that the Church is concerned with the spiritual well-being of all involved (including the gay couple, who under certain circumstances could misinterpret an over-abundance of charity with tacit acceptance of the lifestyle) is essentially correct.

Ultimately, the Church's stance against placing children with gay couples is inseparable from the rest of their doctrine about marriage, the family, and sexuality. You might not agree with it, but you're vastly underestimating the basis of the objection when you assume that the Church could give in on this one point.
6.4.2009 3:49am
paul lukasiak (mail):

Ultimately, the Church's stance against placing children with gay couples is inseparable from the rest of their doctrine about marriage, the family, and sexuality. You might not agree with it, but you're vastly underestimating the basis of the objection when you assume that the Church could give in on this one point.


it seems to me that the Church should get out of the adoption business entirely if that is the case, because if the Church is unwilling to place the welfare of the child first in adoption proceedings, it should not be part of adoptions. Moreover, IMHO the state should deny the Catholic Church any role in adoptions as long as its priorities are not first and foremost the welfare of children involved.

Moreover, the role of Catholic Social Services isn't primarily the promulgation of the faith, but to fulfill demands of Christ's teachings regarding charity. Christ didn't discriminate in his good works based on the "sinfulness" of the prospective recipient of his efforts -- and neither should the Church itself.
6.4.2009 9:03am
sk (mail):
"...because if the Church is unwilling to place the welfare of the child first in adoption proceedings, it should not be part of adoptions."

The Church is fully committed to placing the welfare of children first in adoption proceedings. That's why they won't allow gays to adopt.

Sk
6.4.2009 9:33am
Lymis (mail):
As to why this was done now?

I certainly can't speak with any authority on the issue, but I am very aware that the same situation in Massachusetts (the Catholic Church choosing to shut down adoptions to gay couples rather than continue to follow the state requirements for non-discrimination) has been used nationally as one of the few hot-button proofs that gay marriage will interfere with religious freedom.

Setting up the same situation in California, where there is otherwise very little to support the claim, in the face of the inevitable attempt to repeal Prop 8 seems conveniently timed.

Whether that was the direct intention of this or not, I guarantee that it will be one of the most broadcast talking points on the anti-marriage equality side for years to come.

Again, convenient. And terribly sad for the children and prospective parents who lose in the mix.
6.4.2009 9:35am
Houston Lawyer:
I would think that the Catholic Church would wear San Francisco's condemnation as a badge of honor. Law suits about bruised feelings are a waste of judicial resources.
6.4.2009 9:41am
bcb:
Paul, the Church is not opposed to placing children with same-sex couples as a way of denying services to the couples. Instead, the Church's motivation is child-focused, as you request. Precisely because of its concern for the welfare of the children, the Church is opposed to placing them with same-sex couples, who do provide the environment the Church believes is best for the raising of children. As G. Suiter pointed out, there is an element of concern for the couple and their spiritual lives, too, but the welfare of the children is undoubtedly the primary motivation for the policy.
6.4.2009 9:44am
Seamus (mail):
I know of no constitutional right to not be harmed by government comments regarding your religion, as there is no precedent regarding such a right.

If bland, nondenominational government-sponsored prayers that don't slam anyone's religion or lack thereof, but merely say nice things about God, violate the Establishment Clause by "send[ing] the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherants 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community'," I would think that government-sponsored speech that says "Religion X sucks" might tend to make adherents of Religion X feel even more that are being excluded from the polity. (In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if that was exactly what the San Francisco Board of Supervisors intended.)

And as for there being "no precedent," I think the Ninth Circuit just took care of that.
6.4.2009 10:15am
Seamus (mail):
Scratch what I said about the Ninth Circuit providing a precedent. (I just noticed that the court held that it *was* OK for government to say that a particular religion sucks. My bad.)
6.4.2009 10:17am
AndyinNc:

Precisely because of its concern for the welfare of the children, the Church is opposed to placing them with same-sex couples, who do provide the environment the Church believes is best for the raising of children


As an organization that stands up for the rights of incestuous child rapists like the fellow in Brazil and covers up decades of child sexual abuse around the world, I'm slightly dubious of the Church's claims on matters of child welfare.
6.4.2009 10:21am
Randy R. (mail):
"Malvolio's suggestion about the child and hellfire isn't perhaps spot on, but the idea that the Church is concerned with the spiritual well-being of all involved (including the gay couple, who under certain circumstances could misinterpret an over-abundance of charity with tacit acceptance of the lifestyle) is essentially correct. "

Any adoption agency has the right to make restrictions on whom they adopt to. I believe there is a mormon adoption agency that adopts only to mormon. I have no problem with that, because at least they are being honest about it. The catholic agency could restrict it to only non-redhaired adoptees, on the theory that red haired people don't make good parents. I dont dispute that they have their right.

However, they certainly don't have the right to claim that they are placing the needs of the children first, and should acknowledge that their adoption agency is merely an arm of their political and religious beliefs.

Suppose I were to start an organization to eliminate poverty in cities, and I don't bother with tax exempt status. My policy is that I will only help whites, not any other families of color. Could I plausibly claim that I am just doing this to end poverty? Perhaps, but few would believe me. Most people would assume that my real agenda is not to end poverty, but to help out whites at the expense of others.

So too with this adoption agency. If they really cared about children, they would let them be adopted in into a loving family. There is tremendous need to place children from foster care into families, but not enough families willing to adopt them. This is why every single major adoption agency in the country has backed adoptions for gays -- because there is every evidence that they make as good a home and parents as straights. Furthermore, a major study out of PIttsburgh a few years ago surveryed teenagers in foster care, and asked them if they had a choice of remaining in foster care or beling placed with gay parents, which would they chose? Surprisingly to most everyone, the overwhelming majority said they didn't care about the sexual orientation of the parents, but would much prefer it to the chaos of foster care.

sk: "The Church is fully committed to placing the welfare of children first in adoption proceedings. That's why they won't allow gays to adopt."

Really? So you mean that when the Church WAS allowing adoptions to gay parents, they were abusing the children? Please explain. And please explain why you know better for foster care children than they do themselves.
6.4.2009 10:35am
Randy R. (mail):
What I find most ironic about this lawsuit is the fact that the Catholic League actually filed it. Here's why:

In other threads about SSM, opponents have claimed loudly that once SSM is allowed, gays are going to sue churches to force them to perform SSM, file lawsuits if they preach against homosexuality, and generally use the force of law to bring the churches to heel. However, as Prof Carpenter has concluded, there have actually been no lawsuits actually filed in any jurisdiction that allows SSM in the US.

Funny, then, that when we actually have a situation whereby a gov't entity criticizes the church, it is they that seek to use the force of law to silence the critics.

So -- it turns out that the ones who use the courts to force silence upon their opponents are not the gay activists, but the church leaders. Perhaps we should fear more from the church trying to silence people than gays, eh?
6.4.2009 10:38am
Randy R. (mail):
bcb: "Precisely because of its concern for the welfare of the children, the Church is opposed to placing them with same-sex couples, who do provide the environment the Church believes is best for the raising of children. As G. Suiter pointed out, there is an element of concern for the couple and their spiritual lives, too, but the welfare of the children is undoubtedly the primary motivation for the policy."

Then why did the Catholic church place children in the homes of gay parents until they reversed the policy, prompting the City to issue it's angry retort? If the welfare of the children is 'undoubtedly the primary motivation for the policy," they why not follow national guidelines and take the children out of foster care and place at least some of them with gay parents? Or are you saying that foster care is always better than any gay couple? If so, you are wrong, because that's not the children themselves say, nor any other adoption agency. If you have anything more that mere speculation, I would appreciate seeing it.
6.4.2009 10:44am
Randy R. (mail):
"I certainly can't speak with any authority on the issue, but I am very aware that the same situation in Massachusetts (the Catholic Church choosing to shut down adoptions to gay couples rather than continue to follow the state requirements for non-discrimination) has been used nationally as one of the few hot-button proofs that gay marriage will interfere with religious freedom."

Actually, the Boston newspapers covered this extensively, and your description isn't quite accurate. Cathlic Charities of Boston for years placed children with gay parents without any issue at all. Then SSM came to MA, and the Cardinal, in retaliation, put a stop to all adoptions to gay parents. The entire Board of Trustees told him he was wrong, and voted against it. In the end, they all resigned from the board. The state gave CC money, and said that if they wish to continue to receive public funds, they must abide by public laws. If they didn't wish to abide by public laws, then they could refuse state money. Those were the two choices before them. Either way, they could have remained placing children.

Instead, they chose to close up shop altogether and blame gay activists (who actually had nothing to do with it, it was state officials who told them to comply with state law). And so it's been a rallying cry ever since.

So again -- was the church negligent in placing children in gay households all these years? Why weren't you all up in arm at that time?

And yes, Andy makes a good and irrefutable point: The fact that the church placed children at the mercy of pedophiles and protected them despite full knowledge of what was going on gives lie to any statement that the church's highest priority is the welfare of children.
6.4.2009 10:51am
Randy R. (mail):
one oF many: "I wonder how much was spent on legal fees by the city to fight this? To what end? Gosh, I wonder how many children could have been adopted with that money."

As I pointed out, I agree that this was a waste of taxpayer resources. Glad you agree with me.

"Oh no -- how rude of me to insinuate that the city's highest priority*isn't* actually the adoption of needy children!"

Well, that's news to me. I though the city's highest priority was the proper functioning of the city. The city (or state) licenses other organizations to handle adoptions, and those organizations *should* have as their highest priority the adoption of children. If it isn't, then they should do something else, like celebrate mass or preside over funerals. Leave it to those to take the job seriously.
6.4.2009 10:55am
CJColucci:
I wonder how much was spent on legal fees by the city to fight this? To what end? Gosh, I wonder how many children could have been adopted with that money.

Probably next to nothing. The city was defended by a salaried employee of the City Attorney's Office, who gets paid the same no matter how many silly lawsuits land on his desk to defend. I successfully defended a silly Establishment Clause case a few months ago and New York's taxpayers didn't have to pay me an extra cent.
I suppose you could make some kind of opportunity cost estimate on the assumption that if he (or I) weren't defending this (or my) case he (or I) could be devoting at least some of those hours to other cases, and maybe getting better results overall as a consequence. But it would be of only academic interest because we don't pick the cases, they pick us, and the alternative to defending is to pay.
6.4.2009 11:22am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
A couple quick thoughts on the adoption issue....

I think that there is a simple solution which really should meet everyone's needs. Religious exemptions from the law provided that sufficient alternatives exist. I think that a Catholic adoption agency which wants to act according to the doctrines of the Catholic church should be allowed to do so provided that they aren't the only adoption agency serving a significant geographical area. In this system the adoption agency should be allowed to file for an exemption which would then be approved or denied on that basis.

I would add one caveat that I think that the exemption would apply only to exclusions stated up front by the adoption agency. A lawsuit alleging interference by falsely representing a willingness to adopt should still go forward even with such an exemption.

I would support such laws in my state. Anyone else want to join me in other states?
6.4.2009 11:28am
jawats (mail):
I would say that San Francisco's statements, and the Catholic actions which prompted it, are evidence of two strikingly different definitons of "good."

The Catholic idea of the "good" begins with evaluation of an action in and of itself. Placing children for adoption with heterosexual couples is a good action. However, placing children for adoption with homosexual couples or (likely, though I do not have evidence of actual practices in that area, unmarried couples) would be to condone a lifestyle running directly contrary to Christian Teaching and therefore, not good. In other words, the evaluation of the "good" involved in an action proceeds first from the nature of the action, from the effect on the souls of those involved, and not the likelihood of a "pleasureable" outcome.

The "modern" idea of the "good" seems to revolve around "hedonistic consequentialism," or the idea that anything is a good insofar as the outcome (consequences) maximizes pleasure. In this case, since the pleasure of homosexual couples (as defined by the couples themselves, adopting children) appears to be inhibited by the Church's teachings, then the Church's actions in following those teachings is construed as harmful. This perceived harm cannot be outweighed by the pleasure of other adopting couples or the offense of Catholics.

The question is, why are the pleasures of heterosexual couples or the offense of Catholics to be ignored, if pleasure is to be involved in the calculus? I think that the hedonism involved here is what might be called "ethical hedonism", which is the claim that we all ought to act so as to produce our own pleasure. That pleasure seeking has been attached to "rights" by American law in such statements as "[a]t the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 851 (S.Ct. 1992). Therefore, in refusing to place children with homosexual couples, the Church is perceived as harming those couples' right to define their own concept of the universe. That individualistic definition, combined with ethical hedonism, forbids even the societal utilitarian calculus which might weigh the pleasure experienced by heterosexual couples who adopted children against the harm perceived by the homosexual couples, and potentially find that the Church produced more good than harm.
6.4.2009 11:30am
bcb:
AndyinNC, regardless of the Church's competence and track-record in the child welfare arena, my point to Paul stands - the Church's policy on adoptions is motivated by its concern for children not by an attempt to withhold charitable services from "sinners," as he put it.

Even so - and without minimizing the gravity or breadth of the recent sex-abuse scandals - the Church does not "stand up for the rights of incestuous child rapists." In fact, considering the Church's centuries of world-wide education and social services, it is doubtful there is any institution that has done - or is doing - more for children.
6.4.2009 11:42am
illram:
bcb, if the Church's main motivation is the children's welfare, how is that welfare benefited by being placed with a heterosexual couple over a homosexual couple.
6.4.2009 11:51am
bcb:
Randy R, again, it was not "church leaders" who filed the lawsuit. It was an independent, lay organization that professes to receive no money from the Church.

Also, we are discussing adoption precisely because we do not believe children are capable of making the best decisions about their own welfare. A survey of their preferences deserves little weight in the discussion. I'm sure they would also vote against a curfew, but that is most likely not in their best interest.

The Church's understanding and teaching on sexuality, marriage, and the family cannot be adequately summed up here, but there is enough thought behind it to fill books. See John Paul II's Theology of the Body or Love and Responsibility for starters. True, there are books and studies and surveys in opposition to the Church's view - but that is another debate, and the Church is not wrong to act in line with its well-developed underlying principles.

Regardless of whether you (or "national guidelines") agree with the Church's line of thought, one practical conclusion the Church reaches is that children deserve to be raised by a father and a mother. Naturally, the Church recognizes, that ideal is not always achievable - and some many heterosexual mothers and fathers fail in their responsibilities. But the Church should not deliberately place children in a home it does not believe is best for them (again, regardless of whether everyone else agrees with the underlying principles or definition of "best," as jawats points out).

To the extent children were previously placed with same-sex couples, that policy was not in line with Church teaching.

Also, the Church's policy does not necessarily indicate a preference for keeping children in foster care instead of placing them with same-sex couples. Acting consistently with its understanding of what is best for the children, the Church's solution is to find more heterosexual couples to adopt rather than supporting adoptions that are not in accord with its belief about what is best for the children.

In any event, while the lawsuit filed by the independent group seems political, the adoption policy is not. If anything, the Church stands to lose political power and influence as it retreats from the adoption and health-care fields in the face of laws that threaten to force Catholics to act against their beliefs.
6.4.2009 12:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Jawats:

The "modern" idea of the "good" seems to revolve around "hedonistic consequentialism," or the idea that anything is a good insofar as the outcome (consequences) maximizes pleasure. In this case, since the pleasure of homosexual couples (as defined by the couples themselves, adopting children) appears to be inhibited by the Church's teachings, then the Church's actions in following those teachings is construed as harmful. This perceived harm cannot be outweighed by the pleasure of other adopting couples or the offense of Catholics.


I disagree that that is the distinction.

The Catholic view, as you note, is concerned about condoning a lifestyle they disagree with-- folks who are attracted to those of the same gender in their view should either marry those of the opposite gender or enter the priesthood or monastic orders. The Catholic Church sees this as an issue of good social structure and while I would argue that they are wrong here (as evidenced by the paedophilia scandals which occur repeatedly in various parts of the world), they are at least consistent in their views. From the Catholic perspective, it is better for society if gays can't adopt, get married, live together, etc.

The City's view of good however, is not held on the life-style level but rather at the level of the welfare for the child who is up for adoption. From the city's view, it is better for the child to be in a stable family environment rather than in the foster home system.

In short, the question is whether adoption agencies should be focusing on child welfare or setting social policy based on religious beliefs.
6.4.2009 12:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
bcb:

Would you agree with my proposal above?

Also note that there are clear cases where undue public burdens would result from Catholic hospitals unconditionally following religious edicts, but I think that undue public burdens should be the line. If a gay can easily adopt a child through other means at an equivalent cost in time and money, there is no compelling reason to tell Catholics they can't restrict gay adoptions but the state would need to evaluate this claim.

Similarly, if a pregnant woman is brought to the ER in Catholic hospital and after evaluation she is expected to be hospitalized for one day, there is no reason to force the hospital to assist her with finding an abortion provider, but if the prognosis is that she will be hospitalized for a few months, then I think the duty DOES exist.
6.4.2009 12:08pm
epeeist:
Of course SF has the legal right to express this opinion. I agree with those noting it's a waste of time and money (as well as being silly).

If SF wants to pay for its own adoption services, go ahead. Otherwise, as another poster noted, if it wants to impose conditions that the Catholic agency has a problem with, of course the Catholic agency will "pack up its marbles and go home".

The Catholic church believes that a heterosexual married couple are best at raising children. One may disagree with that belief, but it's an honestly-held one. Presumably the SF city government believes that a homosexual couple is better at raising children than a Catholic heterosexual married couple...

Not directly related, but moreso than that stuff about nambla (which though off-topic, taught me more than "South Park" and I agree that having had nambla as part of its group until 1994 raises serious concerns), I recall a recently ordained priest discussing how one of the examples they used in seminary about when to refuse baptism was a lesbian couple with a child and they wanted the child baptized. He said that they were taught they should baptize the child in those circumstances and not refuse (if I recall correctly the reasoning was something like, it was seen as in the best interests of the child and those with legal authority over the child wanted the baptism, so no religious or legal impediments).
6.4.2009 12:08pm
ShelbyC:
einhverfr:


I think that there is a simple solution which really should meet everyone's needs. Religious exemptions from the law provided that sufficient alternatives exist. I think that a Catholic adoption agency which wants to act according to the doctrines of the Catholic church should be allowed to do so provided that they aren't the only adoption agency serving a significant geographical area. In this system the adoption agency should be allowed to file for an exemption which would then be approved or denied on that basis.


So if they're the only agency in an area, the state should force them to choose between serving everyone or no one? That's a pretty big gamble, dontcha think?
6.4.2009 12:20pm
lucia (mail) (www):
illram--
how is that welfare benefited by being placed with a heterosexual couple over a homosexual couple.

How about this as a theory to explain "how":

To at least some extent, the church considers it good for children to grow to believe or accept the teaching of the Catholic church. That is to say: They think it benefits kids (and even people) to believe the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Children placed with married gay couples are likely to come to believe that it's ok for same sex couples to be married. They are particularly likely to believe it's ok for same sex couples to be married if they are happy, loved and grow to be well adjusted under the guidance of married same sex parents who are accepted by their community.

That is to say: Children placed with well adjusted married same sex couples are at risk of developing belief contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church. This would be bad.


In contrast, if they are placed with a heterosexual couple, there is no risk that they will have a positive first hand experiences of being raised by a homosexual couple. So, from the point of view of the 'good' of coming to accept or believe the teachings of the Catholic church, it is better to place the kids with heterosexual parents.

Is this the argument for not placing kids with homosexual parents? I doubt it. But it might be an argument why someone who really thinks the risk that kids will learn to reject the teachings of the Catholic church is bad for the kids themselves. Of course, the argument has obvious difficulties if the state advances the argument or permits Catholic charities to define adherence to the tenents of Catholocism to dictate the definition of what is "good" for children.
6.4.2009 12:22pm
Nunzio:
Doesn't naming a town after a Catholic saint violate the establishment clause?
6.4.2009 12:23pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ShelbyC:

So if they're the only agency in an area, the state should force them to choose between serving everyone or no one? That's a pretty big gamble, dontcha think?


Sure, but it also states that scarcity is a concern and that adoption agencies can make social statements by refusing service but not social policy by the same action.

Also such an adoption agency wouldn't be voiceless in that situation either. They can show their disapproval by requiring all prospective couples to watch an "informational" video which states their position quite clearly.
6.4.2009 12:24pm
cubanbob (mail):
Randy just you believe in the rightness of your views does not make them so.

The Church has been around a lot longer than the City of St. Francis and it is not going to change it's views to conform with yours. You cite a number of abuses by members of the Church as proof of the assertion that the Church has no business in asserting it's moral claims that gays are fit to be adoptive parents, one can just as easily find any number abuses by gays.

The Church has as a worldview that long predates the City Of San Francisco's Board Of Supervisors and that worldview is protected by the Constitution. That is why the establishment clause is there, to prevent the creation of a State Church and to prevent the state from interjecting itself in to religion. The Church is refusing to be compelled to violate it's own beliefs and acquiesce to yours. What is clearly wrong is for the SF Board Of Supervisors using city funds and paid employee time to pass ordinances that are on it's face clearly unconstitutional to begin with. It is a shame those supervisors can't be sued personally for a blatant misuse of their authority by the Catholic League to recoup it's legal expenses.

I am a supporter of SSM and of gay adoption but I am an adamant supporter of the belief that the rights of people as individuals as articulated in the Constitution and the Basic Organic Laws of the US (and by extension that of organizations and institutions derived from those rights) are paramount to the momentary passions of a majority. Simply because its good local politics and that it dovetails with the personal beliefs of the members of the Board Of Supervisors does not give them the right to impose those views on the Church.

So as long as the tenants of the Church cannot be proven to harm children with respects to adoption; it's views on adoption are as valid as those who are advocating for gay adoption. It is bizarre that parents who are criminals or drug addicts are considered fit to be parents in SF but the Church who is adamant that children have two parents of the opposite sex, the established practice of humanity since time immemorial be condemned by the City of San Francisco for simply refusing to place children for adoption in homes that do not conform to the established worldwide norm.

Again I so no reason why children should not be allowed by law to be adopted by normal, healthy gay couples but resent the demand that ideology trumps all and its imposition by force of law without first deferring to the rights that are innate and inalienable to individuals and institutions under our Constitution.
6.4.2009 12:27pm
Danny (mail):
I was greatly offended every time George Bush pulled out his Bible and spoke directly to the hookworm belt ignoring the civilized part of country. I was greatly offended when his father said that atheists could not make good American citizens. If any opinion statement violates the establishment clause that was it.

It is probably inappropriate in any case, if not illegal, for the gov't to issue opinion statements about religious doctrines.

The Mormons believed that interracial marriage should be punishable by death until the 1950s. Yes, very nice upstanding citizens, I know.

The point is that regardless of whatever nonsense you believe, everyone has to follow the law
6.4.2009 12:27pm
one of many:
M Colucci:
Probably next to nothing. The city was defended by a salaried employee of the City Attorney's Office, who gets paid the same no matter how many silly lawsuits land on his desk to defend. I successfully defended a silly Establishment Clause case a few months ago and New York's taxpayers didn't have to pay me an extra cent.
I suppose you could make some kind of opportunity cost estimate on the assumption that if he (or I) weren't defending this (or my) case he (or I) could be devoting at least some of those hours to other cases, and maybe getting better results overall as a consequence. But it would be of only academic interest because we don't pick the cases, they pick us, and the alternative to defending is to pay.


True, not an argument I would have made myself but since I merely cut-and-pasted RandyR's original comment and changed the church references to the city I am obliged to defend the argument which came with the original. If, ad arguendo, the cost to the Catholic Church of having the Catholic League proceed with the suit is significant than the cost to the City &County of San Francisco of defending the suit is also significant. The total expenses of both sides are no doubt inconsequential to their respective organizations (the Catholic League lawyers were provided by the Thomas Moore Center). But what is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander, if we accept the first (cost to the Church) then we are obliged to accept the second (cost to the city) when it follows a similar fact pattern.

(The cut-and-paste method employed does make RandyR's comment above yours more poignant.)
6.4.2009 12:37pm
bcb:
illram, I would like to respond substantively since that is really at the heart of the discussion, but this is already shaping up to be an awful day for my billable-hour count. Moreover, I would do a disservice to the Church's thought on the question if I tried to summarize it here.

I would point out that for the purposes of responding to the comments of Paul, RandyR, and AndyinNY, it does not much matter what the Church believes or why. My point is simply that the Church's policy is consistent with what it understands is best for children, not an attempt to withhold services from same-sex couples or somehow wield political clout.

In addition to the previously-mentioned John Paul II books, there is a shorter document that offers some broad strokes, especially around Part Two. The idea is roughly that men and women are each made in the image of God and therefore reveal in their distinct bodies and sexuality something different about God while at the same time bringing two, complementary dimensions to a marriage and family. Children deserve to be raised in that complete context, as it were. I apologize for a weak and pathetic attempt at a two-sentence summary, but it's the best I can do other than to encourage further reading on what is really a fascinating and well-developed understanding of human sexuality, marriage, and the family - especially, but not only - if you bring the element of faith into the discussion.

None of this is to say that same-sex couples cannot provide nurturing, loving homes for children that are undoubtedly an improvement over foster care. The Church simply believes that the best home is provided by a father and a mother, and its policy is in line with its pursuit of that ideal.
6.4.2009 12:46pm
illram:
lucia,


That is to say: Children placed with well adjusted married same sex couples are at risk of developing belief contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church. This would be bad.


So one's faith (or the child's possible faith) seems to be a primary factor in the welfare of a child? Do Catholic Adoption agencies let non-Catholic heterosexual couples adopt?

People seem to be arguing that the child's welfare is the point, but if the above is true, then this "welfare" argument is actually circular. The Church's primary concern, instead, would be the continuation of its doctrine.

The welfare of the child should consider things like physical health, security, mental well being, an emotionally stable upbringing, etc. etc.

Of course I do recognize that to many, faith is an inherent part of all those things so I guess we can agree to disagree on that. Nonetheless I would think that objectively speaking, one's faith should really have no consequence regarding a child's welfare.
6.4.2009 12:47pm
Randy R. (mail):
jawats: "The "modern" idea of the "good" seems to revolve around "hedonistic consequentialism," or the idea that anything is a good insofar as the outcome (consequences) maximizes pleasure. In this case, since the pleasure of homosexual couples (as defined by the couples themselves, adopting children) appears to be inhibited by the Church's teachings, then the Church's actions in following those teachings is construed as harmful. This perceived harm cannot be outweighed by the pleasure of other adopting couples or the offense of Catholics."

You completely miss two important points. First, if what you say is true, then WHY did the catholic church allow adoptions to gay parents in the first place

Second, and more importantly, you ignore the fact that there is in herent good in taking children out of foster care and placing them in a loving home. Both hetero and homosexual couples have the same wishes and desires -- to give a loving home to a child who doens't already have one. On what ground do you determine that the hetero couple isn't being hedonistic, yet the homo couple is? You offer no reason.

Furthermore, as I pointed out earlier, studies have shown that foster care children overwhelmingly would prefer a gay couple to remaining in foster care. Don't their wishes count? Why not?

bcb: "Randy R, again, it was not "church leaders" who filed the lawsuit. It was an independent, lay organization that professes to receive no money from the Church."

True. But everyone time a suit is filed a one gay person, the religious right pounces on this as evidence of the Homosexual Agenda. Again, if your side wants distinctions drawn as to who files lawsuits, then you should offer the same courtesy to us.

"A survey of their preferences deserves little weight in the discussion. "

No, it actually deserves a lot of weight. EVery single adoption agency in the land categorically states that no child should remain in foster care if there is there is qualified family ready to accept him or her. No child wishes to remain in foster care and for good reason -- there is no stability, and often times there is abuse. To airily dismiss this preference that is made by professionals in the field AND the children itself is rather arrogant, imo. Furthermore, there is no evidence that gay parents are any better or worse *as a group* than straight people are.

Furthermore, I am breathless -- you go through a lenghty defense of the church doctrine, and again airily dismiss previous practice as "not within doctine." Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. IF it was really so offensive to the church to place children with gays, then why was the policy in effect for so long? And why were the majority of trustees (In Mass, all of them), in favor of continuing adoption to gay parents? ARe you really saying that the trustees knowingly violated church policy, and the church was okay with this, and that they were completely derelict in their duty for so long? If so, that in itself is a scandal.
Again, I agree Catholic church can decide who they want to adopt to.
6.4.2009 12:53pm
Randy R. (mail):
"None of this is to say that same-sex couples cannot provide nurturing, loving homes for children that are undoubtedly an improvement over foster care. The Church simply believes that the best home is provided by a father and a mother, and its policy is in line with its pursuit of that ideal."

And in an ideal world, there would be enough couples qualified and ready to adopt all the children currently in foster care and in need of adoption. But the sad reality -- even you must agree -- is that there is a tremendous shortage of such parents. It's very difficult to adopt any child over the age of 5 (which is why my straight sister adopted a five year old girl). Any child over the age of 10 can pretty much forget any hope of adoption.

There are in fact many gay couples ready and willing to adopt these hard to adopt kids. Moreover, gay couples are virtually the ONLY ones willing to adopt kids that are HIV positive. How many people do you know would do so? No, not so many....

So what does the church do? It basically abandons those kids. Sorry -- outta luck. We think it's better for you to languish in foster care than have any hope of a family life. Nope, we think, in our infinite wisdom, that if you can't have the perfect family with a mom and a pop, then you can't have any at all. THIS is what you call the highest priority of children?

It shameful is what it is. Anyone, catholic or not, who really thinks that God would prefer to have these children be without any parents than to have (gasp) a gay parent, has no business at all determining what is in the best interests of a child. Unless you are ready and willing to find a home for the thousands that realistically can't be placed, you have no business making decisions for them. And neither does the church.
6.4.2009 1:01pm
Danny (mail):
Would Catholic doctrine allow an agency to adopt a Christian child to a Muslim family, knowing that the child would be torn away from the church, and indoctrinated against the church?

If not don't they have the right to specify "Catholics only" or "Christians only" ?
6.4.2009 1:02pm
AndrewM (mail):
Regarding the debate on what is best for the children:
1) The Church takes Matt 10:28 seriously, and so placing a child in a situation where the child's spiritual well-being will be severely harmed is something that it views as intolerable.

2) By providing adoption to gay couples, it is - in a way - condoning a lifestyle that runs contrary to Church teaching (I endorse bcb's reading list for more detail).
6.4.2009 1:17pm
Danny (mail):
Andrew: So they do say the same thing about adoption to anti-Catholic heterosexual Muslim, Hindu and Mormon couples right?
6.4.2009 1:26pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Randy R:

It shameful is what it is. Anyone, catholic or not, who really thinks that God would prefer to have these children be without any parents than to have (gasp) a gay parent, has no business at all determining what is in the best interests of a child. Unless you are ready and willing to find a home for the thousands that realistically can't be placed, you have no business making decisions for them. And neither does the church.


I think the real issue is that the Catholic Church is taking stand not because of the welfare of any individual child but because they don't want to condone a lifestyle they disagree with. There are accepted lifestyles open to those with homosexual tendencies/orientations by the Church: Become a celibate priest, become a celibate monk or nun, or marry someone of the opposite gender nonetheless.

In short, the Church is trying to set SOCIAL policy through these in line with what they think is good. It is the collective that is their target, not the individual.....

I think they are empirically wrong as to their social ideas, though.
6.4.2009 1:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
AndrewM:

Wouldn't the Church have an obligation to refuse to place a child with any unmarried couple?

Wouldn't this apply to those who are unmarried in the eyes of the Church rather than the State? (I.e. wouldn't the requirement be that of a sacramental marriage?)

Hence if a Protestant couple wants to adopt, and one of the spouses wasn't baptised at the time of the marriage, shouldn't they decline to place children into that family as well?

Or are gays picked on (rather than Muslims, Neopagans, etc) because they are an unusually vulnerable minority?
6.4.2009 1:32pm
Seamus (mail):
Hence if a Protestant couple wants to adopt, and one of the spouses wasn't baptised at the time of the marriage, shouldn't they decline to place children into that family as well?

No, because the Catholic Church recognizes such a marriage as valid.
6.4.2009 1:35pm
jawats (mail):

The Catholic view, as you note, is concerned about condoning a lifestyle they disagree with...

Actually, that is not what I said. Nor does the Church say that "marry those of the opposite gender or enter the priesthood or monastic orders" are the only valid options. In the current action, the Church is concerned that the state will force people engaged in actions good and of themselves to either cease altogether, or worse, force them to engage in evil actions. I spoke of a priori moral reasoning - reasoning prior to any consideration of "society" except in the terms of the nature of actions taken by members of society.

From the Catholic perspective, it is better for society if gays can't adopt, get married, live together, etc.

In classical Catholic moral reasoning, it would not make a difference if the outcome of gay adoption, living together, etc., ushered in a new age of peace, prosperity, and welfare for all, the end to abortion and all wars. Individual spiritual good is nonetheless harmed by any person engaging in harmful acts.

These acts cannot be "made good," because they are harmful in and of themselves. They cannot be good, even if they make the individuals involved supremely happy (a hedonistic calculus, as I noted).

Or, to put it literarily:

Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end... but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature ... And to found that edifice on its unavenged tears: would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Ivan Karamazov, The Brothers Karamazov
6.4.2009 1:37pm
mooglar (mail):
Perseus:


So if they didn't spend the money on this suit, they probably would have spent it on some other one.


Well, sure, but the people donating to the Catholic League to file these lawsuits are presumably, Catholics, and since the Catholic Church is funded by donations from those same people, any money the Catholic League spends is money that Catholics donated to the League instead of the Church itself. So it's sort of a distinction without much difference. The money for this suit comes from the same limited pool that funds the Church, after all. True, Church leaders didn't decide to spend Church funds on the suit, but it's still Catholics deciding to spend money on a dumb lawsuit defending the Church instead of on things Jesus actually told his followers to spend money on, like charity for the poor and such.

I don't even know where to begin with Jawats' screed. It's nothing more than an attempt to deflect the issues and make it about something it's not. The fact is that, regardless of the reasons why they are together, homosexual couples can give a child a better, more stable environment to grow up in than foster care can. Even if we were to stipulate that it is better for kids to grow up in a family headed by a heterosexual couple than a homosexual one -- which I think is not true, but for the sake of argument -- then still, when there are too few heterosexual couples available to adopt children, it would still be better (as measured by sociologists using outcomes like whether the kids finish school, have development problems, etc., which are not controversial) to have the children adopted by the homosexual couples than to stay in foster care. As such, it has absolutely nothing to do with the hedonism or pleasure-seeking of the parents, but with the welfare of the children.

Further, Jawats makes a bunch of unstated assumptions for which he (she?) gives no support. For one thing, there is an assumption that homosexuality is wrong or immoral and sought only for "pleasure," while heterosexuals are some kind of moral paladins who couple only as a self-sacrifice to some sort of moral code and don't get any "pleasure" from being together at all. Which, of course, is bull. Homosexual couples and heterosexual couples get together for all kinds of reasons, and certainly the pleasure of having sex with a hot "trophy wife," who marries the man for the "pleasure" financial security, (or vice-versa) is a common enough basis for heterosexual relationships, and is certainly based on "pleasure." But, apparently in Jawats' world, self-effacing heterosexuals get married all the time when they'd rather live monk-like celibate existences in the woods or something, and heterosexuals are never motivated by crass self-gratification when they get together. No.

And, of course, the idea that homosexuals are thinking only of their own "pleasure" when they form relationships assumes that homosexual relationships are bad, and that therefore one who is not only interested in self-gratification would avoid them and the harm they do. But that's begging the question, now, isn't it?

And, lastly, another unstated assumption is that homosexual couples should break up so that they can selflessly enter into "good" heterosexual relationships which would be better for society, including creating more families able to adopt kids. But, once again, this is begging the question, as Jawats hasn't established how or why homosexual couples are worse than heterosexual couples nor why homosexual couples are worse parents than heterosexual. And, further, Jawats has not given us any supporting evidence that homosexuals who eschew homosexual relationships and enter into heterosexual relationships against their inclinations would, in fact, produce good environments for children to grow up in. And, since it is generally not seen that growing up in a house where one parent is lying to him- or herself about his or her sexuality, possibly lying to his or her partner as well, and where the parents have a conflicted relationship, possibly a loveless one as well (something Jawats seems to care nothing about), it is at least easy to imagine that this may not actually be true. Since Jawats gives us nothing to back up this assumption either, we have been given no reason, at least, to suppose that many homosexuals will not provide a better, more stable home life for children when they are in a homosexual relationship than they will in a heterosexual one.
6.4.2009 1:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Seamus:

No, because the Catholic Church recognizes such a marriage as valid.


Really? But if one party was Catholic and the other hadn't been baptized yet, that would be grounds for an annulment in the eyes of the church, or am I wrong? Why would it be different for a baptized Protestant and an unbaptized Protestant?

My point is that ANY marriage that the church would be willing to treat as INVALID FROM ITS BEGINNING should be treated as a non-marriage for the standpoint of providing such services.
6.4.2009 1:41pm
Danny (mail):
So the Catholic agency has the choice of two couples to adopt a little homeless girl to:
1. A Catholic lesbian couple who will send the girl to Catholic school (yes they're sinners, they won't be at the PTA meetings, but the child will at least go to church and hear the Catholic teaching)
2. A heterosexual Muslim couple who will make her wear a veil, and will never let her within 50 feet of a church, and will teach the girl that Christians are immoral worshippers of the cross?

I guess the Catholic adoption agencies would pick # 2?
6.4.2009 1:45pm
Fub:
Danny wrote at 6.4.2009 1:38am:
You can't win a religious debate with someone from another religion.
True, but an incomplete statement of a fundamental law of (human) nature:

You can't win a religious debate with someone from another religion.

You can't win a religious debate with someone from your own religion.

You can't avoid a religious debate except by silence, and even silence is not always effective.
6.4.2009 1:46pm
mooglar (mail):
Well, I see Jawats has essentially admitted to what I claimed while I was writing. To whit, Jawats believes that homosexual relationships are "bad" no matter what, and that therefore kids are worse off in such a bad, immoral environment regardless of what empirical evidence can be brought to bear that the kids are better off in that environment. He or she simply accepts the a priori moral assertion "homosexuality is bad" and that is the end of it.

Which is fine, but then I have to agree with others above who have stated that anyone who is willing to accept, without any evidence and regardless of the actual facts, that something is immoral just because someone said so, probably should not be in a position where they are involved with making decisions or policies about the welfare of children. The First Amendment allow for free practice of religion, but it doesn't mean that we have to take the word of some religion or its leaders in making policy about something as important as child welfare.

Unless we're just going to throw out any rational standard of what constitutes child welfare and let everyone with any religious belief, no matter how mundane or bizarre, use their own standards to judge what is best for kids. But then we're going to have to accept that letting kids die rather than get medical treatment is "best" for them according to some religious folks, and that sometimes a parent's religious beliefs require them to kill a child to save the child's soul or because the child is possessed by demons, and so on and so forth, which I think history has shown is a path that, in the end, results in lots of dead, maimed, and emotionally scarred kids. But if that's what some religious person thinks is "good," hey, who are we to stay differently, right?
6.4.2009 1:50pm
jawats (mail):
In response to mooglar:

The fact is that, regardless of the reasons why they are together, homosexual couples can give a child a better, more stable environment to grow up in than foster care can.

This is outcome-based reasoning - consequentialism or utilitarianism. The Church does not use this sort of reasoning, nor did I found my argument on it. I specifically noted that this is the sort of reasoning most used by opponents of the Church's actions.

As such, it has absolutely nothing to do with the hedonism or pleasure-seeking of the parents, but with the welfare of the children.

You fail to differentiate between an attribution to homosexual couples of a hedonistic (in a broad, non-philosophical sense) lifestyle, and the moral reasoning used by most people in society, attached (as I noted) to our legal system, which results even in heterosexual couples' condemnation of the Church's refusal to allow homosexual adoption as "bad." I would recommend reading a bit more on consequentialism (especially hedonistic) and utilitarianism, and their contrast with virtue ethics and deontological ethics as philosophical and legal ideas - see the following: Consequentialism, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, and Deontological.

I believe you will find my reasoning closest to deontological reasoning.

As for your seeking evidence, I have not made any assumptions concerning lifestyles of heterosexual vs. homosexual vs. single. Providing evidence for claims which I have not made would be confusing for people to read and, therefore, rather foolish for me to do.
6.4.2009 2:04pm
bcb:
RadnyR:

1. True. But everyone time a suit is filed a one gay person, the religious right pounces on this as evidence of the Homosexual Agenda.

I do my best not to engage in that sort of over-generalization; I believe I have been successful in the present discussion. I revisited the clarification only in response to the suggestion that the adoption policy is politically motivated instead of child-motivated, providing evidence that the politically-aimed lawsuit was not brought by the child-minded Church.

2. To airily dismiss this preference that is made by professionals in the field AND the children itself is rather arrogant, imo. Furthermore, there is no evidence that gay parents are any better or worse *as a group* than straight people are.

I did not dismiss a preference made by professionals in the field; I argued that the wishes of children should not carry authority when a large part of the rationale behind adoptive/foster care is children's inability to make the best decisions for themselves. And while I did not dismiss the professionals' opinion, I did point out that the Church - with plenty of experience and expertise of its own - does not necessarily agree with that opinion.

3. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. IF it was really so offensive to the church to place children with gays, then why was the policy in effect for so long? And why were the majority of trustees (In Mass, all of them), in favor of continuing adoption to gay parents?

I don't want it both ways - I believe it was wrong to place children with same-sex couples and still is. Why the examples of inconsistency among Catholics? Peter, the rock on which the Church was built, denied Christ three times, and the Church has been holding councils to try to straighten things out ever since. We'll never get it completely right on this side of heaven. But the Church, as an institution, clearly teaches that a child deserves a mother and a father. Individual Catholics who promote anything else through adoption policies are - objectively speaking - unfaithful to that understanding. Subjectively speaking, I suspect they have nothing but the best of intentions and are closer to sainthood than I for their work in the field.

4. Again, I agree Catholic church can decide who they want to adopt to.

Lol... then wait, what I am arguing with you about again? :) Thank you for your responses; I regret that I really must close the page and get on with work this afternoon. Feel free to have the last word.
6.4.2009 2:05pm
jawats (mail):

To whit, Jawats believes that homosexual relationships are "bad" no matter what, and that therefore kids are worse off in such a bad, immoral environment regardless of what empirical evidence can be brought to bear that the kids are better off in that environment. He or she simply accepts the a priori moral assertion "homosexuality is bad" and that is the end of it.


The Catholic Church believes they are immoral, yes. They should be free to refuse to place children for adoption with homosexual couples. One could postulate several reasons for the a priori assertion. Whether I personally accept it, and why, is somewhat irrelevant to the conversation, as I am outlining the reasoning of the Church, and the reasoning of those opposed to the Church, and why they often collide.

My original analysis still stands as follows:

Therefore, in refusing to place children with homosexual couples, the Church is perceived as harming those couples' right to define their own concept of the universe. That individualistic definition, combined with ethical hedonism, forbids even the societal utilitarian calculus which might weigh the pleasure experienced by heterosexual couples who adopted children against the harm perceived by the homosexual couples, and potentially find that the Church produced more good than harm.
6.4.2009 2:29pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Ilram--
So one's faith (or the child's possible faith) seems to be a primary factor in the welfare of a child? Do Catholic Adoption agencies let non-Catholic heterosexual couples adopt

If (and I stress if) the theory I suggested is their theory, the 'problem' would basically be that, for religious reasons, Cathoiics don't accept same sex marriage. They think it's bad for kids to expose them to conditions where they would come to accept as non-sinful behavior the Catholic church considers sinful. So, Catholic charities won't place them there.

I don't know if Catholic charities lets non-Catholics adopt. I imagine they do let them adopt. But Catholics can have a sliding scale for how "bad" or "good" an outcome is, right? (Anyway, I grew up Catholic. We weren't taught that being Presbyterian is a sin. So, it might not be seen as "bad" to let a kid grow up Presbyterian.)

As I said, I don't know if the theory I suggested is the reason Catholic Charities refused to place kids with same sex couples. But have they advance any evidence based claim that holds any water? And even if they did, if their claim was merely evidence based, we'd just have the State saying, they disagree with that evidence. There wouldn't be any brou-ha-ha with anyone claiming the state is somehow infringing on any religion, right?
6.4.2009 2:42pm
Putting Two and Two...:
So much mis- and dis-information.

Leaving aside all this speculation about Catholic theology vis-a-vis the provision of adoption services, one should remember that when the Board of Supervisors issued its condemnation, it reflected the overwhelming sentiment of the citizens of the City, the Catholic citizens of the City, the gay citizens of the City, the staff of the adoption division of Catholic Charities, the staff of the larger organization, the Board of the organization, the Director of the Board of the organization.

The appeal to reconsider did not, obviously, reflect the views of the Catholic League.

Surely, the Board of Supervisors is allowed to comment on the policies of its SINGLE LARGEST RECIPIENT of contracts to provide social services in the City of San Francisco, especially when policy changes dictated from Rome cause upheaval within the organization and lead to disruption in local services.
6.4.2009 2:54pm
Danny (mail):
I noticed that none of the Catholic commenters were willing to answer my question about adopting a Christian child to an anti-Catholic Muslim couple, which makes me think that they have no answer, or they don't want to say what their answer is.
6.4.2009 3:04pm
jawats (mail):
...one should remember that when the Board of Supervisors issued its condemnation, it reflected the overwhelming sentiment of the citizens of the City, the Catholic citizens of the City, the gay citizens of the City, the staff of the adoption division of Catholic Charities, the staff of the larger organization, the Board of the organization, the Director of the Board of the organization.

Are you pulling from general political theory (elected officials forming the vox populi), or from a more specific statement of the Catholic citizens of the city?
Surely, the Board of Supervisors is allowed to comment on the policies of its SINGLE LARGEST RECIPIENT of contracts to provide social services in the City of San Francisco, especially when policy changes dictated from Rome cause upheaval within the organization and lead to disruption in local services.

I think I will reference Prof. Volokh's original post in response (where he mostly agreed with your sentiment, as I review it):
Start with the old those-Catholics-are-controlled-by-a-foreign-potentate thing that has historically often been used to discredit American Catholic politicians, and that seems to me to have no relevance to the moral issues involved here. Opposition to same-sex adoption is right or wrong with no regard to whether the leaders of the opposition are in Italy or here.

and
It seems to me that if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors really wanted to act as "the government of [a] tolerant community" by "treat[ing] its minority populations with care and respect" (I quote here from another recent resolution, to avoid "creat[ing] a divisive atmosphere," and to "reflect the diversity of the community," it should have avoided suggesting that serious Catholics who follow the Church hierarchy's teachings are agents of a "meddl[ing]" "foreign country," or irrelevantly faulted their cherished institutions for those institutions' centuries-old sins.
6.4.2009 3:05pm
Putting Two and Two...:

Are you pulling from general political theory (elected officials forming the vox populi), or from a more specific statement of the Catholic citizens of the city?


I'm pulling from my knowledge as a resident of this City, a gay man, formerly Catholic, with several friends who work or worked for CC. I'm also a reader of local newspapers, which is all you'd need to be to know these things.

Prof. Volokh's comments that you quote are off the mark.


Start with the old those-Catholics-are-controlled-by-a-foreign-potentate thing that has historically often been used to discredit American Catholic politicians


In this case, the charge of "orders from Rome" are quite correct and not an attempt to raise some anti-Catholic boogieman. The Vatican's decision rubbed most Catholics in this City wrong, including the entire board of CC.


and that seems to me to have no relevance to the moral issues involved here


This comment gives weight only to the brand new view of the "moral issues" from the Vatican's perspective. The local view held by CC itself is that it was and should have remained more moral to continue adoption to same-sex couples and obey state non-discrimination law.
6.4.2009 3:28pm
Seamus (mail):

Really? But if one party was Catholic and the other hadn't been baptized yet, that would be grounds for an annulment in the eyes of the church, or am I wrong? Why would it be different for a baptized Protestant and an unbaptized Protestant?


"A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid." CIC Can. 1086 §1 (emphasis added).

(The law was different before promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. At that time, the impediment of disparity of cult invalidated marriages between any baptized person (including a Protestant) and an unbaptized person.)
6.4.2009 3:33pm
Seamus (mail):
I noticed that none of the Catholic commenters were willing to answer my question about adopting a Christian child to an anti-Catholic Muslim couple, which makes me think that they have no answer, or they don't want to say what their answer is.



Or maybe we didn't see your question. Naah, that can't be it. It must be that all the papists are cowering because we quake in fear of Danny.

Well, since I went back and found your question, here goes.


Would Catholic doctrine allow an agency to adopt a Christian child to a Muslim family, knowing that the child would be torn away from the church, and indoctrinated against the church?



I would think not. Whether particular Catholic adoption agencies would have the courage to stand up for (what ought to be) their beliefs, I can't say.
6.4.2009 3:40pm
jawats (mail):

I noticed that none of the Catholic commenters were willing to answer my question about adopting a Christian child to an anti-Catholic Muslim couple, which makes me think that they have no answer, or they don't want to say what their answer is.


First, one must be willing to ignore the relevant questions of whether Catholic adoption agencies only put up Christian children for adoption, and whether an adopting couple would show up at a Catholic agency and state, "We are anti-Catholic" for any serious purpose...and I suppose the problems inherent in attempting to define what "anti-Catholic" means and from whence it stems in any particular couples' thought. And, of course, the additional possibility that pat answers to deep questions may not be good, and nobody wants to invest the time to response to such a broad question. Oh, and then there is the question of the reducto argument - "well, how about third-generation ties to Nazi sympathiziers in Brazil? And malformed left armed bandits? And...."

With those clarifying questions ignored, there is nothing inherently evil, from the Church's point-of-view, in being "anti-Catholic." If the couple were proclaiming their allegiance to White Power groups (e.g., stemming from racism), then there might be a problem granting the adoption, because racism is evil, in and of itself.
6.4.2009 3:49pm
Sid the warmonger (mail) (www):
I am not Catholic.

But my wife is an ordained United Methodist Deacon. I have come to the UM Church through my relationship with her. As a United Methodist, I am stunned with a fair frequency by the actions and pronouncements of prominent members, councils, or representatives of the United Methodist Church.

Zealots who represent our denomination often times speak out on issues with views that do not represent our shared beliefs. From time to time, we have to reset the platform.

I would assume that the Catholic Church has had a similiar experience. I have noticed that several commenters have asked why the change in policy. Quite possibly, the key leaders have sparked the change. Groups, committees, and board of directors start down a path with the best of intentions. Later, the actions have to be reconcilled with core beliefs and values.

It is not hard to understand. Catholic adoption agencies started adapting the standards for adoptive couples to meet both changing social values and demands. As they evolved the standards, they began allowing couples (gays and others) to adopt children. Eventually though, they had to look at the policy and ask "is this within our keeping of our core beliefs?" They changed their policy to match their beliefs. It is not hard to understand.

Those would bring up the abusive priests issue are doing a disservice to the current issue. Most Catholics had no first-hand knowledge of abuse and most Catholic priests were not pedophiles. The Catholic Church has admitted its policy was flawed and had changed its policy.
6.4.2009 3:53pm
Danny (mail):

whether an adopting couple would show up at a Catholic agency and state, "We are anti-Catholic" for any serious purpose...and I suppose the problems inherent in attempting to define what "anti-Catholic" means and from whence it stems in any particular couples' thought.


They don't need to say it. A Muslim couple shows up, the wife is wearing a veil, how clearer can you get? The child will be taught to deny Jesus Christ, will be utterly cut off from Christianity, and will lose her chance at salvation. How is that not inherently evil? If you died without relatives, which would be worse, your child ending up with a Catholic lesbian couple who will send her to a Catholic school with priests and nuns, or a Muslim heterosexual couple who will make her wear a veil and be taught to hate Christians? Certainly in the first case she has some chance of turning out a good Catholic (maybe she will one day even disown her adoptive parents), in the second no chance of going to heaven.


Whether particular Catholic adoption agencies would have the courage to stand up for (what ought to be) their beliefs, I can't say.


So this is not really (just) a gay issue, there are potentially lots of groups of people who are protected by anti-discrimination laws that Catholic charities would violate church doctrine by adopting to, even worse than if they adopted them to gays. Personally I have no problem with private adoption agencies choosing who they want to adopt to, in the same way that Catholic schools are not open to "the public" without limitations. But we should just be clear many groups will be excluded. If only gays are excluded, then it's not about Church doctrine, it's just about homophobia
6.4.2009 4:29pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Seamus:

"A marriage between two persons, one of whom has been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act and the other of whom is not baptized, is invalid." CIC Can. 1086 §1 (emphasis added).


Ergo, a such a civil marriage (but not done in a Catholic Church) cannot be treated differently from a couple living in sin, correct?
6.4.2009 5:44pm
Mike Mahoney (mail):
Now no one can claim hate speech when some other town council voices an opposite opinion that helping homosexuals adopt is a bad thing. If it is ok for San Francisco to take a stand one way, then it must also be ok to take a stand the other way. If not then San Francisco is guilty of hate speech towards Catholics.
6.4.2009 5:51pm
Randy R. (mail):
bcb: "I did not dismiss a preference made by professionals in the field; I argued that the wishes of children should not carry authority when a large part of the rationale behind adoptive/foster care is children's inability to make the best decisions for themselves."


Okay, so the wishes of the child should not carry authority. So if a child is placed in a gay couple because the authorities say this is better for them than the foster care, and he says that he does not want to have gay parents, you would dismiss the child's wishes? Oh, now you will consider the kids' wishes. . So you would only consider a kid's wishes when they comport with your own, right?

"And while I did not dismiss the professionals' opinion, I did point out that the Church - with plenty of experience and expertise of its own - does not necessarily agree with that opinion."

No, on this your are completely wrong. Remember -- the church for many years had no problems placing kids with gay parents. So what was the result? Did they church do any study and found out that the kids did worse? Nope. There is no such study. Rather, every study ever done shows in fact that kids of gay parents do just as well as other kids. please -- show me where the church has pointed to any experience or expertise of its own. There is none -- they have nothing more than doctrinal justification. What's more, the trustees, the people who were charged with actually administering the programs, protested when the church changed the policy. Why would they do that if there was ANY evidence of harm? Oh, I guess they were just stupid, right? Well, then why does the church hire stupid people to run it's adoption program?

The church has a right believe whatever it believes. And yes, the church can make rules on however it wishes to regarding adoption. What I object to is that this is any way placing a priority upon the needs of the child. They can say they are a placement agency for putting children only in good catholic households that are republican registered and earn more than $100,000 a year for all I care. But don't tell me that they really care about the best welfare of the children. They don't. Instead, they want to marginlize gays from society in any way they can. AGain, that's their right, but it has nothing to do with adoptions.

There are in fact many children in foster care who are gay or transgendered themselves. In those situations, they are abused or even thrown out of the house. As a result, many of them end up on the streets. If you talk to any gay youth counselor, you will find out it happens a lot more frequently than you can imagine. For those kids, unquestionably, it would be better to adopt them into gay households, as it beats the abuse or the streets. But the catholic church says it doesn't care about those kids. They can basically go to hell, for all they care. They simply would rather they suffer the abuse of foster care than adopt them into a gay household.

That anyone would agree this is the best policy for foster care kids, no matter what their situation, borders on pure evil. Yet I notice not one of you will even consider this a problem. Instead, you argue about the 'spiritual' dimensions of homosexuality, or whether the church has teachings that it must adhere to. Not one of you have a plan to deal with all the kids who are in foster care and won't ever be adopted, or the kids who are HIV positive. Nope, you would rather argue about church policy than actually get your do something about it. Perhaps I'm a bit emotional about this, but I have seen first hand, through some work at a youth agency, of the so-called 'love' that these churches perpetrate upon young gays, and foster kids. It isn't love that i've ever seen,but a counterfeit one maskarading as doctrine.

For some funny reason, I was brought up a catholic, and taught that this is the Church of Christ. Any church that turns it's back on the least of society turns it's back upon Christ himself. And that's exactly what they do to these kids who won't ever be adopted. They would prefer them not to be adopted than to ever have them experience the warmth of a real family. And yet people this is perfectly okay. Really, it's shameless.
6.4.2009 6:08pm
Perseus (mail):
True, Church leaders didn't decide to spend Church funds on the suit, but it's still Catholics deciding to spend money on a dumb lawsuit defending the Church instead of on things Jesus actually told his followers to spend money on, like charity for the poor and such.

Once the donations are made, it's really up to the Catholic League to decide how to spend the money, which will be for some sort of civic or legal activity to further its mission, which is not to help the poor per se so far as I can tell. Arguing that good Catholics should instead donate to charity work is a bit presumptuous, particularly by those who seem to think that the Church is just another social welfare organization, which, in effect, reduces Christian caritas/agape to a kind of materialism that elevates the goods of the body over those of the soul. And the same argument could be made against all people who donate to advocacy groups that engage in similar kinds of (non-charitable) activities. Now one could still argue that this particular lawsuit was not the best use of CL's resources to further its mission, but it's not obvious to me that is was not, particularly if you take into account the PR and fund raising value of the suit against those nutty San Francisco public officials.
6.4.2009 6:12pm
Seamus (mail):

Ergo, a such a civil marriage (but not done in a Catholic Church) cannot be treated differently from a couple living in sin, correct?


Actually, a marriage (even an invalid marriage) can and should be treated differently from a couple, because the two fall into different categories.

But perhaps you meant that a *couple* united by such a civil marriage cannot be treated (by the Church) differently from a couple living in sin? Objectively, the two situations are indeed the same. Subjectively, they might be different: the couple living in sin (in "concubinage," to use the quaint term the moral theology handbooks used to use) is under no illusions about being married; the invalidly married couple, on the other hand, may be unaware of the obligations of the law, may actually believe that the moral law forbids both fornication and concubinage, and may think that their civil marriage is a real marriage and that their acts of coitus are genuinely marital acts. They may objectively be committing acts of fornication, without incurring the moral guilt of those acts. The pastoral practice employed to persuade the invalidly married couple to conform their lives to the moral law may therefore be different than that employed to persuade the couple in obvious concubinage to do so.
6.4.2009 6:14pm
Seamus (mail):

So this is not really (just) a gay issue, there are potentially lots of groups of people who are protected by anti-discrimination laws that Catholic charities would violate church doctrine by adopting to, even worse than if they adopted them to gays.



Are you telling me that the anti-discrimination laws would forbid a Catholic adoption agency from following a policy of not placing Christian children with non-Christian families? If so, the agencies should tell the state to go piss up a rope, even if that means the agencies can no longer arrange adoptions. (The one exception I might make is if the non-Christian families agreed to raise the children as Christians.)
6.4.2009 6:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Seamus:

The pastoral practice employed to persuade the invalidly married couple to conform their lives to the moral law may therefore be different than that employed to persuade the couple in obvious concubinage to do so.


Ok. How would it be different if it was a marriage between divorcees?
6.4.2009 7:28pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
San Francisco is not guilty of "hate speech" against Catholics, just of disagreeing with the views of Cardinal Levada about whether a child's adoption by a same-sex couple would "mean doing violence" to the child, as he stated.

I think the Establishment Clause challenge was without merit here because the City can criticize a church Cardinal for expressing an opinion on a secular matter that the City disagrees with. It would be different if the City condemned "Catholicism" or "Islam" as a religion of intolerance, but that is not what the resolution stated.
6.5.2009 1:27am
Danny (mail):
Since when is "hate speech" a crime one can be guilty of under US law?
6.5.2009 1:35am
ReaderY:
I continue to find it utterly amazing that people will support affitmative action in schools (because it's the progressive thing to do!) believing and insistent with fervent faith and zealousnous that a gender-diverse environment is not only beneficial for children but essential for their well-being, while simultaneously proclaiming with equally fervent faith and zealousness when these sorts of issues come up that there's no relationship at all between environmental gender diversity and child well-being, and further anyone who thinks there is is a bigot!

The city of San Francisco is strongly opposed to same-gender education. The San Francisco Public schools enroll students with gender as a factor to ensure classrooms have "balanced gender diversity". San Francisco, unlike some other more progressive cities, frowns on even experimental same-sex educational environments and requires charter schools, like regular public schools, to maintain its gender diversity-policy.

Why isn't San Francisco willing to let its children be educated with single-gender schools, despite the fact that they have had some at least moderately good results for them elsewhere?

From everything on this forum, there seems to be only one possible opinion: The City of San Francisco are a bunch of bigots, school solely because they don't like its gender composition is because they simply don't care about children -- they care about their own political and religious beliefs instead.

Is this the case? Probably not. An honest and unemotional look at the situation would suggest there is a real difference of opinion on what is best for children, and the City of San Francisco's policy of denying charters to perfectly good educators based solely on a non-heterosexual gender composition of their educational environment, despite the shortage of good educational settings and the number of children who need them, may be based on something other than hate.

What makes the Catholic Church's policy on home environments different from the City of San Francisco's similar policy on school environments? Why are its motivations for that policy for adoptions different from the City of San Francisco's similar policy for education?

More importantly, why would anyone think that in one kind of environment reason goes only one way, so that anyone who takes the opposite view is an oppressor, while in the other kind of environment, reason can only go one way and that one way is the opposite way?

At some point one has to stop this business of always being dead certain about ones positions and actually do some thinking. Maybe sometimes things aren't quite as certain as they seem.
6.7.2009 6:53am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.