Sunday, August 8, 2010

Australian Adoption Agencies Want "Special Rights"

As ABC news reports, two adoption agencies in Australia, Anglicare and Centacare are urging the government to squash a gay adoption bill or give them an exception because of their religious beliefs.

Anglicare has written to MPs urging them to vote against the bill and is threatening to withdraw its adoption services if the laws are introduced.
Community Services Minister Linda Burney says Cabinet will this week discuss amending the bill so Anglicare and Catholic Agency, Centacare, can refuse gay couples adoption rights.
"Their argument - and I respect their argument - is that it is an anomaly to them; it's not part of what their faith can, or believes in, or can cope with," she said.
Though I appreciate the "problems" that these religious organizations might have with gay adoptions, and though I am sure that many children would be harmed if these organizations would stop helping place children in homes, I believe that by in caving to these organizations and giving them a special right to circumvent the law, that the government would be sending a very dangerous precedent.

When does religious views trump the law? Or a better question to ask, when are you allowed to have religious freedom? When you are involved in the public sphere, though not directly subsidized by the government, are you allowed to not abide by the law when you do not like it?

An issue exactly like this was hotly debated in Washington D.C. earlier this year, when the District legalized same-sex marriage. Catholic adoption agencies then withdrew from putting children into homes because the District would not exempt them from adopting to gay couples.

So what is the right answer? What line should be drawn in this debate? Realistically there is no easy answer, for freedom of conscious and religious freedoms are something that should not be violated. Yet at the same time, would we allow an adoption agency to not adopt to blacks or aboriginals because they might have a religious problem with them?

My personal opinion is that if we keep allowing "religious objections" to reign over our laws, then what is the point for fighting for equality anyway? If a large body of organizations can still discriminate against people legally, then we are not achieving equality - we are achieving pseudo-equality.

I welcome your thoughts; especially from my Australian readers, since this issue affects them directly.

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