Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Adoption Fight in Illinois

     As we speak, there is a debate that is happening in Illinois over the ability of Catholic groups to provide adoption services in the State. Illinois new civil unions legislation goes into effect on June 1, and according to Catholic organizations, they are afraid that they will be subjected to lawsuits because they will refuse to place children in same-sex households. This brings up an interesting debate, and one that we in the United States need to have; for should organizations that receive state funding be allowed to discriminate in services against groups of people because of religious beliefs.

      First thing that I should say is that when discussing issues relating to adoption, everyone naturally asks "what is best for the children". In this situation, I think is inappropriate. Though adoption services are naturally about children, we are not discussing what is best for children. We are discussing whether or not an organization that provides a state sanctioned and funded service should be allowed to discriminate against parents who meet all other qualifications except the qualification of gender. The issue of children just muddies the issue.

     When I discussed an issue similar to this that happened in Australia last year, I emphasized that I have no problem with Catholic Adoption Agencies exercising their religious beliefs in not placing children in same-sex households. Though I think that the policy of the Catholic Agencies is short sighted, hateful, and discriminatory, it is not my place  to complain about this - as I am not in any way Catholic. What I do take significant issue with, on the other hand, is the fact that these adoption agencies are given funds by the State of Illinois.

    As these adoption agencies are Catholic in nature, the fact that they receive taxpayer funding should give us pause. If these agencies are able to invoke religion in their operation, they are expecting that the taxpayers of Illinois will subsidize this invocation of dogma and personal belief. Should government have the ability to do this? I think not, for then when would it stop? Should we give money to other religious organizations to perform other tasks? Is adoption somehow a special and unique endeavor that requires that governments give private agencies money? To me, if these agencies want the leeway and the freedom to do what they wish in regards to the placement of children, they should do everything on their own...no more funding from the government.

     This would not only benefit the Government of Illinois, who would no longer look hypocritical when it comes to the promotion of equality in the State, but it would also be beneficial for these adoption agencies, for now they would no longer have the government holding a significant bargaining chip - finances.

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