Gingrich Denies Facts About Same-Sex Adoption In Massachusetts, D.C.

January 10, 2012 12:00 pm ET

During an appearance on the January 10, 2012, edition of CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich attempted to advance his claim that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. had forced Catholic Charities and other religious institutions to put an end to their adoption services. O’Brien attempted to correct Gingrich by pointing out that, in both cases, Catholic Charities were simply being asked to abide by non-discrimination laws in order to receive public funding. Gingrich rejected O’Brien’s explanation, but her analysis was exactly correct.

Gingrich Claims Catholic Adoption Agencies Were “Forced To Close” In Massachusetts, Washington, D.C.

Gingrich: Catholic Adoption Agencies Are “Being Forced To Meet The Secular Demands Of The State.” From the January 10 edition of CNN’s Starting Point:

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN (HOST): You were talking about gay adoption and you said that the church, the Catholic Church, was forced to close its adoption centers. Isn’t what really happened that, if the church decided it was going to continue to take federal funds and have access to those foster children, that they couldn’t continue to discriminate against gay couples who wanted to adopt?

NEWT GINGRICH: That’s right.

O’BRIEN: They weren’t really forced to close, they made the decision.

GINGRICH: No, no. They were forced to close because you’re saying to a religious group “give up your religion.” That’s absurd. The idea that the state would impose its secular values on a religious organization is an absurdity.

O’BRIEN: If you want funding. Isn’t that if you want funding?

GINGRICH: No, no, in Massachusetts–

O’BRIEN: You can do whatever you want but if you want funding.

GINGRICH: No, that’s not true. That’s not true. There are states now, including the District of Columbia, which essentially adopt laws that say you can’t offer an adoption service unless you meet the secular standards of the state. They are in effect saying the secular standards of the state are more important than religious freedom. I think it is inherently anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. It is in favor of a secular model, that I think is wrong. And I think that it’s wrong for the government to impose its values on religion. That’s the whole point of the First Amendment, is to not have the government imposing values on religion. [CNN, Starting Point, 1/10/12]

Reality: Catholic Charities Chose To Stop Receiving Public Funding For Adoption Services

Family Equality Council: Choice To Stop Public Adoption Services “Was Made By Catholic Charities Alone.” Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:

Mr. Gingrich’s comments are patently false and inherently anti-family.  The decision to end public adoption services in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia was made by Catholic Charities alone. They wanted to continue to receive public funding without adhering to the law and when the state refused to make an exception for them they balked at providing critical social services to youth.

This has nothing to do with the government trying to impose values on religion. On the contrary, this had to do with the Catholic Charities trying to impose its values on children and families who needed social services.

His comments are a distraction at a time when we should be focused on the best interests of children and finding them loving and permanent homes. [Jennifer Chrisler Email, 1/10/12, emphasis added]

Massachusetts’ Catholic Charities "Voluntarily" Chose To Stop Providing Adoption Services Instead Of Serving Same-Sex Couples. According to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) blog:

So here’s a little reality check. Catholic Charities of Boston was not forced out of the adoption business because of marriage equality in Massachusetts. The organization voluntarily ceased doing adoptions after the state’s four Catholic Bishops got wind that gay parents had been adopting kids through Catholic Charities from an October 2005 Boston Globe story. Not surprisingly, all of this happened as the Massachusetts Legislature was wrestling with whether to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the statewide ballot, which the local Catholic hierarchy supported wholeheartedly. […]

Catholic Charities was accepting state funds to provide adoption services and was thus bound by the state’s gay-inclusive anti-discrimination law not to reject qualified adoptive parents based on sexual orientation. Oh, and by the way, the non-discrimination law has been on the books since 1989—long before marriage equality was but a doodle on Mary Bonauto’s legal pad. [GLAD.org, 3/10/11, emphasis original]

Catholic Charities Of Boston Was Never Denied An Adoption License. According to a GLAD fact sheet on Catholic Charities and adoption services in Massachusetts:

Did the state “deny” Catholic Charities of Boston “its adoption agency license”?

No. For 17 years Catholic Charities of Boston complied with non-discrimination laws and put the best interests of children first, in some cases placing a child with gay or lesbian parents. Catholic Charities chose to close down its adoption services. At no point was it denied an adoption license. [GLAD.org, 12/22/11]

Catholic Adoption Agencies Can Still Choose To Discriminate Against Same-Sex Couples In Private Adoption Services. Steve Major, director of communications for the Family Equality Council, wrote in an email to Equality Matters:

Catholic Charities facilitates relatively few public adoptions nationwide. In areas where they’ve declined to comply with existing non-discrimination rules and stopped doing public placements (Massachusetts, D.C., parts of California – and will be the likely result in IL where the issue is still working its way through the state courts) there has been little to no impact on the state’s ability to place children. Other adoption agencies have agreed to step in and continue the work of finding children their forever families.

Catholic Charities and other religiously affiliated organizations who receive public funding should be obligated to follow the same non-discrimination laws that other agencies adhere to.  If they place their own religious objections ahead of the law and the best interests of kids, they should withdraw from conducting public adoptions. They are free to continue facilitating private adoptions. [Steve Major Email, 9/9/11, emphasis added]

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