Kathleen Parker

We live in interesting times when the Catholic Church has to defend its doctrinal beliefs regarding the adoption of children against those who insist that the church adjust its policies to reflect the preferences of gays and lesbians.

Such is the case in Massachusetts, where the Boston Archdiocese's Catholic Charities has been challenged by gay activists opposing the church's rule that adoptive children be placed only in heterosexual homes.

Massachusetts' gays have taken the position that the church, which has handled state adoptions for the past two decades, is discriminating against homosexuals and lesbians and is thus in violation of state anti-discrimination laws.

When both positions are fundamentally true - state and church laws are indeed in conflict - what's to be done? Unfortunately for all concerned, this apparent no-win situation has found a lose-lose resolution.

Catholic Charities, which for more than 100 years has placed 80 percent of the state's most challenging children - those who are mentally and physically handicapped - has decided to cease its adoption operations. Hard-to-place children henceforth will have to find homes some other way.

Meanwhile, gays, who could have adopted children from some 80 other gay-friendly adoption agencies in Massachusetts, have won a perhaps-dubious victory that has observers concerned about future church-state challenges.

If the church can be forced to adhere to state laws regarding adoption in spite of prohibitive doctrine, can the church also be forced in other areas, perhaps to conduct same-sex marriages? Gay activists have always insisted not, but the adoption case demonstrates that the lines separating church and state are not always so clear.

Theoretically, isn't the church discriminating against gays by refusing to marry them? In time, no doubt, a well-placed lawsuit will tell.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with gay family adoptions isn't the issue here, and it's important to articulate this clearly.

Personally, I know many gay and lesbian couples who would make far better parents than thousands of heterosexual couples out there who do not deserve the progeny they create. And while I agree with the church that children deserve both a mother and a father, not all children are so lucky. Inarguably, children are better off placed in a home with loving adults than left in an institution or traded among a series of foster homes.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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