The Immorality of Banning Gay Adoption

There is something mean-spirited and wholly sinful about a church that would rather stop facilitating adoptions than comply with state laws that ban discrimination.

There is also something politically amiss when a governor like Mitt Romney, who was elected to represent all the people of Massachusetts, forsakes state law and files legislation that promulgates a religious bias disguised as religious freedom.

“It is a matter beyond dispute, and a prerequisite to the preservation of liberty, that government not dictate to religious institutions the moral principles by which they are to carry out their charitable and divine mission,” Romney wrote lawmakers in a letter accompanying his “Protecting Religious Freedom” bill.

Selective discrimination always hurts the targeted group, but when gays are banned from adopting, the greatest harm done is to the children.

Romney’s legislation also states that it will be legal for “any religious or denominational institution or organization” to “take any action” to provide adoption services that promote its religious principles as long as the groups do not “discriminate among prospective adoptive parents on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender, [or] handicap.”

Of course, the list excludes sexual orientation.

Selective discrimination always hurts the targeted group, but when gays are banned from adopting, the greatest harm done is to the children.

While it is easy for elected officials to politically extol why gay adoptions are wrong and for clerics to religiously pontificate why gay adoptions are antithetical to its church’s sacred tenets, it is hard to fathom why politicians and clerics would use their power to further an agenda that benefits no one — particularly not the parentless children in need of adoption. As much noise as our culture generates about “no child left behind,” when society politicizes adoption in this way, it abandons each child denied access to loving parents.

… LGBTQ parents are as capable as other parents of raising healthy and happy children.

How do I know this?

I grew up as a ward of New York state. I was shuffled back and forth from foster home to foster home in Brooklyn at a time when it was not only politically incorrect for white couples to adopt black children, but it was also legally prohibited across the country. While the country in 1967 had to accept the landmark decision case of Loving v. Virginia allowing interracial marriage, the country did not accept interracial families.

Child experts of the day argued that black children would have a loss of identity. We would not know what group of people socially and culturally we belonged to. Some argued that black children growing up in white families would unconsciously appropriate not only “white ways,” but these black children would also appropriate white racist attitudes toward other blacks, like comedian David Chappelle portrays in one of his skits as a blind black man ranting and raving why he hates “niggers.”

Elected officials and clerics who rail against gays adopting have no idea what it is like to grow up as a ward of the state …

Today the arguments are eerily reminiscent of that time, but toward a different target group. The concerns surrounding LGBTQ adoptions are superfluous, bigoted and wrong-headed, but they nonetheless prevail in the face of hard social and scientific evidence that LGBTQ parents are as capable as other parents of raising healthy and happy children.

Many argue that our adopted children would be bullied and ostracized by their peers, and thus would develop psychological problems. They say our children would show atypical gender development, with less feminine girls and less masculine boys. And they claim that children raised in same-sex households would experience difficulties in emotional well-being and intimate relationships. Therefore, the argument goes, children raised by LGBTQ parents are more likely than children raised in heterosexual households to develop a gay or a lesbian sexual orientation.

Many right-wing ideologues view LGBTQ parenthood as treading on the sanctity of the American family, and many churches nationwide see our families as nothing less that threatening the death of civilization as ordered by God. There is even a debate brewing about whether lesbians should have access to assisted reproduction procedures like donor insemination.

But not allowing LGBTQ couples to adopt leaves more children parentless as I was, ending up in foster care. And the evidence of what happens to us as wards of the state show that many endure abuses of the sort we hear about in cases of trafficking in women and children in third world countries.

No child should be bereft of the joys of living in a loving and nurturing household where its focus is on its spiritual content and not its physical composition.

Coming through the foster care system, we are the children left behind. We are bounced from foster home to foster home. Many foster parents take us in because they receive money from the state that should be used for our care, but often isn’t. Foster children have the highest high school dropout rates and the highest percentage of poor health, incarceration, and unemployment. And when we age out of foster care, we are homeless and parentless again.

Elected officials and clerics who rail against gays adopting have no idea what it is like to grow up as a ward of the state, when you are the child society left behind because you got caught up in their self-serving agendas.

A 2003 Vatican document called gay adoptions “gravely immoral.” The document reflects no awareness of what children need for their physical, psychological and spiritual well-being in any family configuration. But the document’s most egregious error is its violations of the three commandants dealing with children’s civil rights:

  • No child should grow up without the love and security that comes from committed parents.
  • No child should be bereft of the joys of living in a loving and nurturing household where its focus is on its spiritual content and not its physical composition.
  • And no child should get caught up or be left behind because of politicians’ and clerics’ promotion of their self-serving agendas.

A violation of any of these commandments is gravely immoral.

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