If I told you that someone’s religious freedom was being violated or they were being persecuted, you would immediately think that I was talking about what’s happening in China or Vietnam. And while these are certainly the most egregious examples, religious freedom is also being trampled in a place that is, for me at least, closer to home: Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, adoption agencies must be licensed by the state and adhere to the state’s anti-discrimination laws, including laws prohibiting discrimination against gay couples.
This puts Catholic Charities in a bind. The Vatican has called gay adoptions “gravely immoral” and said that they do “violence” to children. By “violence” it means taking advantage of the children’s “dependency” to place them “in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.”
At the same time, Catholic Charities wants to help children in need of a home. The most obvious way out of the dilemma is an exemption from the law, what’s commonly called a “conscience clause,” which is done all the time. So, the bishops of Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Fall River hired a law firm to “explore legal and political strategies for opting out of gay adoptions.”
Last week, they got the bad news: Governor Mitt Romney informed them that “he was not authorized to give such an exemption.” And State Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty told them that the legislature was unlikely to enact such an exemption.
This leaves the bishops, who, at least nominally, control Catholic Charities, with two choices: Allow gay adoptions or get out of the adoption business altogether.
Actually, there’s a third option: Find ways around the law. Now, this is what the Worcester branch did. It refers prospective gay adopters to other agencies. But even this has prompted state officials to investigate the agency for possibly “flouting” the laws against discrimination.