Friday, March 5, 2010

Know Your Smear Campaign

How the Catholic Hierarachy Lies, Claims Gays Attack Religious Freedom

from Pam's House Blend:

In early 2006, in the wake of the 2004 Goodridge decision legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, the Archdiocese of Boston told Catholic Charities to cease its adoption services, claiming that due to the new marriage equality law, the Charities would be forced to place children with gay couples, which the Vatican had declared immoral in 2003. However, as it normally does, the church hierarchy was playing fast and loose with the facts.

According to Boston Globe reporting in October 2005, Catholic Charities in Boston had placed 13 children with gay couples since 1987, finalizing their first gay adoption in 1997. All 13 children were considered difficult cases due to being older, or special needs. This was done quietly, out of the eye of the public, and right under the nose of the Boston Archdiocese, whose bishops either didn't know, or presumably cared more about the money coming in than a few gays adopting older, special-needs children whom no one else wanted. After all, Catholic Charities had to abide by anti-discrimination laws in order to receive public funds. Then along came Goodridge and marriage equality in 2004, a year after the Vatican's proclamation. Suddenly, the Archdiocese had a big problem. Attention was on Masschusetts from the Vatican, and the recent Globe reporting drew attention. The Archdiocese directed Catholic Charities to abide by Vatican teachings, and cease placing children with gay couples.

(There's a phrase somewhere about waste products and giant oscillators that describes what happened next, I'm sure of it...)

Upon being told that they would have to cease placing adoptive children with gay couples, the 42 board members of Catholic Charities unanimously voted to continue the practice. Recognizing both the legal and moral imperative to not discriminate, they agreed that doing so would alienate parishioners, paint the Church as bigots, and disqualify Catholic Charities from the majority of its state-allocated and donor funds. Catholic Charities refused to discriminate.

In order to play both sides of the coin, ie, receive public money and still abide by Vatican decree, in February 2006 the Archdiocese initially sought a religious exemption to the state anti-discrimination laws. This would allow them to refuse family services to LGBT families and still receive public money.

Any agency in Massachusetts that handles adoptions must obtain a state license, which prohibits them from turning down prospective parents based on sexual orientation, religion, and race, among other factors, said Constantia Papanikolaou, general counsel for the Department of Early Education and Care, which licenses all adoption agencies. If an agency knowingly discriminates, it could be stripped of its license to broker all adoptions.

''You can't have a discrimination policy," Papanikolaou said. ''It's a condition of their license."

The effort failed. When the bishops tried to plead religious exemption, the Commonwealth refused. Then-Governor Mitt Romney admitted he did not have the authority to grant such an exemption, and there was not enough support among the Legislature. The Archdiocese directed Catholic Charities to cease placing adoptive children with gay couples, and to hell with the public funds and the adoptive services license. In response, seven members of the board resigned in protest.

Among those who quit was Peter Meade, executive vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and chairman of the board until last month. Meade expressed concern that the bishops' position on gay adoptions will alienate Catholics in the state and reduce much-needed donations for the agency's charitable work.

We ''cannot participate in an effort to pursue legal permission to discriminate against Massachusetts citizens who want to play their part in building strong families," the seven members said in a statement.

This stunt by the Archdiocese cost Catholic Charities not just their public funds, but millions in donor dollars as well. Not only were Catholic Charities disqualified from receiving tapayers funds, they were also cut out of the pot by charitable organizations such as United Way, which has a strict anti-discrimination policy. In 2005, 24% of Catholic Charities' budget came from such private funding. The Church couldn't afford to fund adoption services without public money and the majority of their philanthropic org money.

Catholic Charities of Boston shut down their adoption services altogether in March 2006. They didn't shut down their adoption services simply because they didn't want to place children with gay couples. They shut down because they could no longer afford to fund the services, having lost their cash flow from the Commonwealth's Treasury and private philanthropists once they instituted a policy of discrimination. And all at the behest of Archdiocese, which only three years earlier had paid $157 million in claims by victims of child rape by priests.

This, Blenders, is the crapheap that anti-gay religious hate groups and their affiliates sell as an "attack on religious freedom." This is the story they warp and twist and feed to voters, who don't know any better. These are the facts, and I urge you all to remember them the next time you hear the lie that "gays are attacking free practice of religion." Religious organizations have the right to discriminate against whomever they wish. What they do NOT have is the right to taxpayer money while doing so.

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