Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hearing on LB975, NE bill to reward religious anti-LGBT bias with tax subsidies; Chambers: 'It's not your job to protect freedom of religion. It's your job to protect the welfare of children.'

The New Civil Rights Movement wrote about LB975 last month:
Via Ballotpedia
     Republican State Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, 64, recently introduced LB 975, a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children in the homes of qualified LGBT parents, while preventing the state from taking away any agency's funding or limiting its contracts. All the agency would have to do is claim they refused a qualified couple based on the agency's "religious objection."
     The anti-gay bill is cleverly named the “Welfare Services Preservation Act” as a way to disguise the fact that the bill’s sole purpose is to discriminate against LGBT families. 
Watch KETV's hearing coverage here
     Yesterday the bill had a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee and Sen. Ernie Chambers was fit to be tied (skip to the 1:14 mark in the video link.)
     Mark Kolterman, the bill's sponsor, is apparently quite offended that some people are outraged by his attempt to guarantee that private agencies practicing discrimination should continue to get public money from Nebraska taxpayers:

     Despite all this I have received a number of attacks on my character. This saddens me for a number of reasons. First, that anyone would refer to me as “homophobic” and that my legislation “is a violation of human rights and also an indication of [my] lack of understanding among [my] constituents” is highly offensive. I have close friends and family who identify as members of the LGBT community. In fact, I have discussed this bill with some of those friends and family from District 24. One particular close friend of mine who is openly gay, after understanding the true intent of the bill, supports the idea for people to be able to ensure their religious liberty.
     Additionally, if one’s intent is to stop hateful and hurtful behavior, it is beyond reason to engage in hateful and hurtful dialogue. I realize the issue of discrimination against the LGBT community can be a heated one. Although I assure that my intent is not to single out any group of people, I understand the objections before me. It is unfortunate that reasonable people in the midst of a heated issue get caught in the crossfire of unreasonable dialogue. If those who take issue with LB975 took the time to get to know me, I think they would realize that there isn’t a hateful or homophobic bone in my body.
     Yeah, whatever. Below, Sen. Kolterman portrays as victims the religious agencies practicing discrimination  — the same religious adoption agencies who are also playing a placement extortion game with strapped state governments — subsidize us and exempt us from the rules everyone else must play by, or we'll dump the kids on you and walk away:
     No agency should be forced to choose between abandoning their faith or abandoning the children and parents they serve. Unfortunately, in the states of Massachusetts and Illinois, and in the District of Columbia, faith-based agencies have been forced to make that exact choice.
     Want to know what really happened in Massachusetts, uncolored by Sen. Kolterman's disingenuous spin in the previous paragraph? Read the following by Laura Kiritsy.
     Pay particular attention to this: the bishops simply elected to shut down Catholic Charities of Boston’s adoption services – despite a unanimous vote by the agency’s 42-member board to continue facilitating adoptions by gay people.
     Remember that the next time you hear Senator Kolterman complain about being misunderstood, that he isn't really homophobic that Massachusetts forced Catholic Charities out of the adoption business, yada yada yada and then decide whether he's just playing anyone he thinks can be had.

     ...Lastly, this is an issue I followed closely not for just professional reasons – I was on staff at the LGBT newspaper Bay Windows when the saga unfolded – but deeply personal ones. I and my four siblings were all adopted through Catholic Charities, so I know firsthand the immeasurable value of their good work. In 2006 I wrote an essay about my own experience and the impact of the agency’s decision to quit the adoption business.
     So here’s a little reality check. Catholic Charities of Boston was not forced out of the adoption business... 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.
     The Globe reported that over the course of about two decades, Catholic Charities placed 13 children with gay parents, out of about 720 adoptions they facilitated during those years. For the record, those 13 children were considered hard to place with adoptive parents because they were older or had physical or emotional difficulties, meaning had they not found loving parents who happened to be gay, they’d likely not have parents. 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...
     The Globe also reported that though Catholic Charities President Bryan Hehir didn’t love the idea of placing children with same-sex couples, he saw it as “a legal accommodation in the name of a greater social good.” The story later states that, “Hehir said that to his knowledge, his agency has never sought an exemption from the nondiscrimination language.”
      At least not until the four bishops, led by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, decided that Catholic Charities should be exempt from the state’s non-discrimination law, a move that was detailed in a March 11, 2006 Globe article about Catholic Charities decision to stop doing adoptions. When that proved to be a non-starter on Beacon Hill, the bishops simply elected to shut down Catholic Charities of Boston’s adoption services – despite a unanimous vote by the agency’s 42-member board to continue facilitating adoptions by gay people. As the Globe reported on March 11, Hehir and Catholic Charities board president Jeffrey Kaneb said the decision stemmed from their inability “to reconcile church teaching that placement of children in gay homes is “immoral” with Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against gays.”

1 comment:

  1. The story is similar in Illinois: Catholic Charities had been placing children with gays without incident until civil unions were established (with full marriage looming on the horizon). Suddenly it was an issue. The attorney general pointed out that not only was their refusal to place children with same-sex couples against the law, but it would have a direct impact on their license and state funding. They closed their adoption services rather than comply with the law. Interestingly enough, within a few days their cases had been assumed by other agencies, including one run by the Lutheran Church.