On television and in the Catholic "News" Agency, the church is repeating the lie that, somehow, gay rights laws in Massachusetts forced them to shut down their child placement services, even though Mormon adoption agencies still operate in the state (unlike the Catholics, the Latter Day Saints don't insist that the state subsidize their discriminatory practices with tax dollars.) Here's the CNA disinformation:
Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law forced Catholic Charities of Boston to end its adoption program, one of the oldest in the country.Equality matters has conclusively debunked this threadbare falsehood constantly recycled by the Roman Catholic Church and right-wing anti-gay-for-pay organizations:
REALITY: Catholic Adoption Agencies Voluntarily Ended Their Services
Massachusetts’ Catholic Charities Chose To Stop Providing Adoption Services Instead Of Serving Same-Sex Couples.
According to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) blog:
So here’s a little reality check. Catholic Charities of Boston was not forced out of the adoption business because of marriage equality in Massachusetts. The organization voluntarily ceased doing adoptions after the state’s four Catholic Bishops got wind that gay parents had been adopting kids through Catholic Charities from an October 2005 Boston Globe story. Not surprisingly, all of this happened as the Massachusetts Legislature was wrestling with whether to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the statewide ballot, which the local Catholic hierarchy supported wholeheartedly.Catholic Charities Of Boston Was Never Denied An Adoption License.
Catholic Charities was accepting state funds to provide adoption services and was thus bound by the state’s gay-inclusive anti-discrimination law not to reject qualified adoptive parents based on sexual orientation. Oh, and by the way, the non-discrimination law has been on the books since 1989—long before marriage equality was but a doodle on [civil rights advocate] Mary Bonauto’s legal pad. [GLAD.org, 3/10/11, emphasis original]
According to a GLAD fact sheet on Catholic Charities and adoption services in Massachusetts:
Did the state “deny” Catholic Charities of Boston “its adoption agency license”?Family Equality Council: The Choice To Stop Public Adoption Services “Was Made By Catholic Charities Alone.”
No. For 17 years Catholic Charities of Boston complied with non-discrimination laws and put the best interests of children first, in some cases placing a child with gay or lesbian parents. Catholic Charities chose to close down its adoption services. At no point was it denied an adoption license. [GLAD.org, 12/22/11]
Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:
The decision to end public adoption services in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia was made by Catholic Charities alone. They wanted to continue to receive public funding without adhering to the law and when the state refused to make an exception for them they balked at providing critical social services to youth.Catholic Adoption Agencies Can Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples In Private Adoption Services. Steve Majors, director of communications for the Family Equality Council, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:
This has nothing to do with the government trying to impose values on religion. On the contrary, this had to do with the Catholic Charities trying to impose its values on children and families who needed social services. [Jennifer Chrisler email, 1/10/12, emphasis added]
Catholic Charities facilitates relatively few public adoptions nationwide. In areas where they’ve declined to comply with existing non-discrimination rules and stopped doing public placements (Massachusetts, D.C., parts of California – and will be the likely result in IL where the issue is still working its way through the state courts) there has been little to no impact on the state’s ability to place children. Other adoption agencies have agreed to step in and continue the work of finding children their forever families.
Catholic Charities and other religiously affiliated organizations who receive public funding should be obligated to follow the same non-discrimination laws that other agencies adhere to. If they place their own religious objections ahead of the law and the best interests of kids, they should withdraw from conducting public adoptions. They are free to continue facilitating private adoptions. [Steve Majors email, 9/9/11, emphasis added]