WASHINGTON — Two Republican lawmakers have introduced new legislation aimed at allowing adoption and foster-care agencies to deny services based on their religious beliefs or moral convictions, but critics charge the bill would simply enable agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.With same-sex marriage bans dropping like flies in front of the Christian Right, the next strategy has taken its cue from their erstwhile victory with Hobby Lobby: "the right to discriminate is still OURS!"
“The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014″ would “ensure that organizations with religious or moral convictions are allowed to continue to provide services for children” by prohibiting state and federal governments from terminating funding or contracts with local agencies over anti-discrimination laws."To so many, the "Inclusion Act" is a downright act of exclusion, but the bill's sponsors, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, (R-Wyo.), and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), don't see it that way.
From Enzi's website:
“This bill is about fairness and inclusion. It is about ensuring that everyone who wants to help provide foster or adoptive care to children is able to have a seat at the table,” said Kelly. “Faith-based organizations have historically played a downright heroic role in caring for our nation’s most vulnerable and needy kids. In so many ways their work is unparalleled. There is no good reason why any of these care providers should be disqualified from working with their government to serve America’s families simply because of their deeply-rooted religious beliefs.”But "everyone" surely doesn't include same-sex couples, does it? To give gays a "seat at the table" would definitely be against someone's "deeply-rooted religious beliefs."
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops endorses the Act, perhaps because several Catholic agencies have had their funds curtailed in the states of Massachusetts, California and Illinois, states where same-sex marriage is legal. A chief endorsement came from San Francisco's own Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, an architect of Prop 8 (surprise!).
Old Demon - New Strategy
Bryan Fischer, the Christian Right's chief demonizer, stated back in 2012:
“There is a myth that homosexual couples can be just a good of parents to children as heterosexual couples, as married moms and dads,” Fischer insisted. “Absolutely, flatly, totally, completely not true. Same sex parenting is bad for kids period.”Recent studies, however, are not a "myth": they show that gay parents are no more harmful to a child's upbringing than heterosexual parents. And the American Psychological Association has determined that "parenting effectiveness is not related to parental sexual orientation."
“The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, to put kids into this environment, it’s a form of sexual abuse all its own. To adopt kids into a same sex environment is a form of child abuse.”
Gays as unfit parents has been the demonizing point of the Christian Right for years, but with the loss of the marriage debate in so many states, the strategy had to change: it is a defensive strategy, to be sure, but one based on the "freedom of religion" meme that worked in the Hobby Lobby case.
Where Are The Children?
The proposed "Inclusion Act" protects faith-based adoption agencies, but what about those "vulnerable and needy kids"? Does "every child deserves a mother and a father" trump loving adoptive parents? The bill would also allow agencies to discriminate against single parents and unwed mothers. People like Bryan Fischer would certainly not allow children to be adopted by women who "rut like rabbits." The Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown attitude still exists among the Christian Right. The single-parent dilemma, in fact, is the focus of the season finale of the hit comedy "Two and a Half Men" (with a nod to gay marriage).
So, in a sense, morality trumps child welfare. That a child might fare well in a same-sex or a single-parent household does not matter. Lawmakers may say they have the welfare of children at heart, those poor "vulnerable kids," but when it comes to pressure from the Christian Right, those same children might just be pawns in the culture war game.
Of course, for centuries, children have been pawns in politico-religious games.
Maybe it's time to stop.