Saturday, May 13, 2006

Religious freedom vs cultural values

Maggie Gallagher reports on the growing conflict between religious beliefs and societal values as it plays out in the battle between Catholic Charities of Boston and the State of Massachusetts:

CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF BOSTON made the announcement on March 10: It was getting out of the adoption business. "We have encountered a dilemma we cannot resolve. . . . The issue is adoption to same-sex couples."

It was shocking news. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation's oldest adoption agencies, had long specialized in finding good homes for hard to place kids. "Catholic Charities was always at the top of the list," Paula Wisnewski, director of adoption for the Home for Little Wanderers, told the Boston Globe. "It's a shame because it is certainly going to mean that fewer children from foster care are going to find permanent homes." Marylou Sudders, president of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said simply, "This is a tragedy for kids."

How did this tragedy happen?

It's a complicated story. Massachusetts law prohibited "orientation discrimination" over a decade ago. Then in November 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered gay marriage. The majority ruled that only animus against gay people could explain why anyone would want to treat opposite-sex and same-sex couples differently. That same year, partly in response to growing pressure for gay marriage and adoption both here and in Europe, a Vatican statement made clear that placing children with same-sex couples violates Catholic teaching.

Then in October 2005, the Boston Globe broke the news: Boston Catholic Charities had placed a small number of children with same-sex couples. Sean Cardinal O'Malley, who has authority over Catholic Charities of Boston, responded by stating that the agency would no longer do so.

Seven members of the Boston Catholic Charities board (about one-sixth of the membership) resigned in protest. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights, issued a thundering denunciation of the Catholic hierarchy: "These bishops are putting an ugly political agenda before the needs of very vulnerable children. Every one of the nation's leading children's welfare groups agrees that a parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her ability to raise a child. What these bishops are doing is shameful, wrong, and has nothing to do whatsoever with faith."

But getting square with the church didn't end Catholic Charities' woes. To operate in Massachusetts, an adoption agency must be licensed by the state. And to get a license, an agency must pledge to obey state laws barring discrimination--including the decade-old ban on orientation discrimination. With the legalization of gay marriage in the state, discrimination against same-sex couples would be outlawed, too.

Cardinal O'Malley asked Governor Mitt Romney for a religious exemption from the ban on orientation discrimination. Governor Romney reluctantly responded that he lacked legal authority to grant one unilaterally, by executive order. So the governor and archbishop turned to the state legislature, requesting a conscience exemption that would allow Catholic Charities to continue to help kids in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching.

To date, not a single other Massachusetts political leader appears willing to consider even the narrowest religious exemption. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the Republican candidate for governor in this fall's election, refused to budge: "I believe that any institution that wants to provide services that are regulated by the state has to abide by the laws of the state," Healey told the Boston Globe on March 2, "and our antidiscrimination laws are some of our most important."

I am struck by the similarity of the Catholic Diocese of Boston's request for a religious exemption from a state law and the demand by many Muslim communities in Western countries for the freedom to practice Sharia law within their own communities. Conservatives and most liberals in the US rightly see that such special concessions to Muslims are a threat to the rule of law and would enable the growth of , for all practical purposes, separate sovereign nations within our own. Yet I am doubtful that most conservatives see the same danger in the request by the Boston Diocese for separate status within the laws of Massachusetts.

Whether you feel that the anti-discrimination laws of Massachusetts are just or unjust, I hope that all of us can agree that we cannot allow dissenter status based on religious convictions. Such an application of the First Amendment's freedom of expression clause would undoubtedly undermine the very democratic principles upon which our country was founded. A law is either an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights, or it isn't. If it isn't, then it must be enforced uniformly, without exemption for religious beliefs.

Gallagher's article probes beyond the Boston adoption controversy to what conflicts lie ahead in the struggle over Gay rights:

So who is right? Is the fate of Catholic Charities of Boston an aberration or a sign of things to come?

I PUT THE QUESTION to Anthony Picarello, president and general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund is widely recognized as one of the best religious liberty law firms and the only one that defends the religious liberty of all faith groups, "from Anglicans to Zoroastrians," as its founder Kevin J. Hasson likes to say (referring to actual clients the Becket Fund has defended).

Just how serious are the coming conflicts over religious liberty stemming from gay marriage?

"The impact will be severe and pervasive," Picarello says flatly. "This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations." Recent years, he predicts, will be looked back on as a time of relative peace between church and state, one where people had the luxury of litigating cases about things like the Ten Commandments in courthouses. In times of relative peace, says Picarello, people don't even notice that "the church is surrounded on all sides by the state; that church and state butt up against each other. The boundaries are usually peaceful, so it's easy sometimes to forget they are there. But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter."

There are optimistic and pessimistic ways to predict the outcome of this upcoming struggle, but in either scenario I don't see the Church (broadly speaking) side of the struggle gaining any territory. The plurality of cultural values in the US will not shrink, but grow in the coming decades, and the central role that church and faith-based organizations have held in society, from marriage, adoption, and youth groups such as the Boy Scouts will come under pressure to either serve that plurality more broadly or watch their roles diminish.

When America was more religiously homogenous, religious freedom was seen more as a group freedom, that is, the right of a religious majority to establish laws and societal norms that reflected their common religious values. Thus the issue of paryer in public schools was seen as the right of the religious majority to establish the norm that everyone will be required to pray in the manner of the majority, whether they were a part of that majority or not. Though the rights of religious minorities were, by law, protected, in practice those rights were trumped by the collective rights of the majority.

The evolution of Church/State jurisprudence toward greater consideration for minority rights has been seen by majorities as a greater diminuition of religious freedom. This evolution has also mirrored the increasing religious and cultural pluralization of American society. American society has been able to achieve its amazing cohesion in the face of this pluralization precisely because of this trend toward increasing individual freedoms at the expense of group freedoms. To those who belong to those once majority groups, though, this greater cohesion seems more like a coming apart at the seams. It is a historical tradeoff, which it seems that only American society has been able to pull off. The alternative is cultural Balkanization, which has been the historical norm for most nations and empires. Will the upcoming struggles over Gay rights lead to a Balkanization of American society or will we maintain a common American identity?

Read Gallagher's article in full, it is a very thoughtful and well researched analysis of legal and cultural battles to come.


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

There have been a few religious exceptions carved out of secular law.

In Iowa, for example, the conflict between the Amish (or Mennonites, I'm not too sure just what sect was involved) who believed GOD objected to education beyond 8th grade (what a weird god!) and the state which required universal education to age 16 was finessed.

Easier to do with a compact, tiny community that went out of its way to avoid interacting with mainstream society than with the Roman Catholic Church.


I will try to restrain myself from ruminating on Catholic beliefs, but I personally have no objection to allowing a pair of men/pair of women to raise a child.

It certainly happens millions of times if you consider intergenerational households: How many American kids grow up with a mom and a grandmom, but no daddy or granddaddy?

I do object, and am never going to be willing to compromise, to allowing same-sex couples to reproduce.

I don't give a rat's ass about them, but I believe every child is entitled to a mommy and a daddy, and it's child abuse to deliberately deprive the child of the one or the other.

May 13, 2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

"cultural values", eh? You mean like being forced to turn over young children to a pair of strange men? Boy, you have to say this for the gay movement. Nobody else has ever moved from outlaw to tolerated dysfuntional to "let freedom ring" equal to ideological terrorist quite so fast.

May 13, 2006 3:18 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

As the Massachusetts law was passed by a majority of the people's representatives, said people being predominantly straight, it is hard to call this an act of gay terrorism. Gay adoptions have not been totally uncommon, and I don't believe that it is an extreme position among the commom folk that gay/lesbian couples be permitted to adopt children, especially where there may be a shortage of straight couples who want to adopt. Look at these survey results.

I, for one, think that adoption agencies should, other factors being equal, favor married heterosexual couples over gay/lesbian couples, but I wouldn't deprive an orphaned child a home with a gay couple if there were no acceptable straight couple available.

May 13, 2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

You are missing the point, Duck. It would be just as insane to let a male hetero couple adopt.

But if the polls say it is ok, well that settles it, I guess.

May 13, 2006 4:07 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Duck wrote: "I am struck by the similarity of the Catholic Diocese of Boston's request for a religious exemption from a state law and the demand by many Muslim communities in Western countries for the freedom to practice Sharia law within their own communities."

I'm having some trouble being "struck" by a similarity.

It seems to me the basic logic looks something like: entity E1 wishes to offer service S to entity E2 but will only do so with condition C. E2 decides that C is unacceptable so E1 declines to offer S.

It's not a big deal, as far as I'm concerned. Each side has made decisions in their best interest. I assume that Massachusetts is convinced that their decision is, overall, best for everybody including the children.

It's also not inherently religious. Note that cities and states are forever making tax exemptions to attract companies to set up facilities in their jurisdictions.

Sharia law doesn't look to me to be similar at all. The Muslim community is not offering a service - in other words, they want something for nothing in return.

Duck wrote: "I, for one, think that adoption agencies should, other factors being equal, favor married heterosexual couples over gay/lesbian couples..."

That would be discriminatory, no? Tch, tch.

So what I'm gathering, since you're not religious, is that you have a non-religious reason for said discrimination that is just (and may even justify an exemption), but any reason that's religious, even if the outcome after the exemption is beneficial, then it's wrong no matter what, and must be prohibited even if it leads to the same ends as your reason.

I have to say this leaves me confused.

May 13, 2006 5:43 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Duck is being a bit disingenuous. When the law was passed, this was not an issue and (IMHO) could not have been reasonably forseen by the electorate. The immediate cause was a court decision, not a vote of either the populace or their elected representative.

I also think that the comparison to Shari'a is invalid as well. It is the difference between negative and positive liberty, which I am surprised Duck misses.

May 13, 2006 6:12 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I could have foreseen it. I did.

As an issue, this has been under discussion around the country for as long as I can remember. Not a discussion of statutes, but part of the general homosexual rights rubric.


I'm not clear how it is different to hand over a child to two strange men as compared with a strange man and strange woman. Or one woman.

I have a friend, single woman, who adopted a Russian orphan. The girl would have been better off, in my opinion, with a stepfather, too, but she was overjoyed to get out of Russia under any terms.

May 13, 2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Your diagramming of the situation is inaccurate. E2 isn't offered the service, E2 is discriminated against. But the point is that the law states that condition C is illegal discrimination, and party E1 is trying to get an exemption on religious freedom grounds.

The only similarity I am trying to draw between this case and Sharia law is that in both cases there is a group that wants religious exemptions from a law or a set of laws. Remember the woman in Florida that didn't want to have her picture taken for a driver's license because of Sharia law?

SH, the law seems to be rather broadly written, so if the electorate's representatives didn't foresee this situation, well, shame on them. But it wouldn't surprise me if a majority of the electorate approves of the court's decision. The point is that it is the law.

Yes, I am confused as to how you are applying the concepts of negative and positive liberty here. Please elaborate.

Bret, the criteria that I set out for adoptions are what I would favor if I wrote the law. It is discriminatory in the sense that a couple's sexual orientation is a factor in the decision, but there are many factors that are (or should be) applied in any adoption scenario, whether the adoptors are gay or straight. Many states use the race of the child and the adopting parents, trying to place black children with black parents. A parents criminal record, or employment status, or income are also factors that are open to "discrimination". In the end, adoption decisions need to be in the best interests of the child, not the parents. We shouldn't construe a "right to adopt" for adults.

Peter, if it is a poll of elected representatives in a state government, then it is the law.

May 14, 2006 6:33 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Like Duck, I don't see the Church gaining any territory on this, for both environmental and moral reasons.

First, the environmental. Unlike Europe, where Islam is effectively nearly the majority theistic faith -- unfortunately for Europe, the loss of theistic faith seems universally accompanied by a mass increase in horrible posture due to spine extractions -- there is a near absence of equally fervent opposition. Here, the plethora of Christian sects, which are often as dissimilar as they are alike, ensures that virtually any stand one particular sect takes will be opposed by another.

Then there is the moral morass. It is virtually certain that most, if not all, homosexuals are born that way. There is no moral component whatsoever to their orientation, any more than there is a moral component to heterosexuality. The morality lies in any given act's context, not affiliation. (I predict that within twenty years, our society will view Christianity's attitude towards gays with the same warm nostalgia as towards miscegenation -- I don't have a cite offhand, but I think it is fairly well known that those under 35 have a much different outlook than those older).

In other words, on this issue, the Church's position is based upon an invalid premise, one that inherently contradicts Americans' rather widespread notions of what constitutes "fair play."

What's more, the Church's objections elide some significant difficulties. Primary among them is that it inherently takes the position that a child is better of in transient foster care than adopted by a same-sex couple. Then there is the issue Peter raises:

You mean like being forced to turn over young children to a pair of strange men?

Which highlights the automatic assumption that adopted children face no, or at least much less, threat when adopted by a heterosexual couple (even presuming that alternative exists). Unfortunately, likely due to our evolutionary heritage, heterosexual males have a significantly higher incidence of child abuse when the child is not theirs.

Does that make it insane to let heterosexual couples adopt?

I'm still mulling over the similarity to demands for Sharia law. There is certainly a difference in degree; but I'm not sure there is a difference in kind. Demanding a sectarian exception to secular law is what it is.

Harry said I could have foreseen it. I did.

As an issue, this has been under discussion around the country for as long as I can remember. Not a discussion of statutes, but part of the general homosexual rights rubric.

He is right. In most, if not all, states, it is legal for homosexual couples to adopt. But not legal for them to marry. This kerfuffle has been inevitable for quite some time.

... but she was overjoyed to get out of Russia under any terms.

I don't think anyone, including gay advocates, disagrees with the notion that heterosexual couples should have priority. But that still leaves many children unadopted.

Given the alternatives on offer, what is the best solution?

May 14, 2006 6:39 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

And another point Peter. If you think a young child shouldn't be sent home with "strane men", then why has society felt so comfortable with allowing orphaned children to be put in the care of priests for so long? Do you remember the Mount Cashel orphanage run by the Christian Brothers in Newfoundland? It seems to me that the godly and decent society of our forefathers had a lot less concern for the fates of orphans than we do today.

May 14, 2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Oh boy, I love the modern world. Whenever we find something we don't like--like religion and priests--we haul out theories on the depths of psycho-sexual complexities and find warped and menacing dysfunction all around. Whenever we find something we do, like equality for gays, then we're all "What's the problem and why do you assume there is any sexual component, you dirty old man?"

Look, this issue goes beyond simple equality rights for gays. It is part of a trend towards ignoring completely the whole relationship between child-rearing and adult sexuality in order not to cramp anyone's hormonal style. Firstly, there is no right to adopt and there should not be. Secondly, all the Bills of Rights, courts and legislatures in the world cannot change the basic fundamental reality that there are differences between male and female sexuality. The fact that many, maybe most, hetero and gay parents are just fine at raising their non-biological children does not change the fact that those who are not can be a threat in far greater numbers than with women, who are almost never a threat at all.

You can see our voluntary blindness (i.e. sacrificing the kids' interests)in modern custody trials. Every aspect of the parents' lives is put under a microscope, but one that is skipped over quickly is the relevance of a new partner. We know that stepfathers are a danger (to varying degrees) to girls in numbers far greater than natural fathers. We also know stepmothers, good and bad, rarely are. You think Mia was just as likely to marry a stepson as Woody was his stepdaughter? But, of course, the implication of that is that a natural father can choose a new partner with less concern for the kids than can a natural mother. Can't have that in these days of sexual freedom, can we? So the whole issue is swept under the carpet and the courts will regularly describe the mother's new boy-toy as part of "a new, committed relationship." If you think that is a price we must pay for sexual equality, that is one thing, but to state there is no difference between stepmothers and stepfathers as an objective fact is wilful blindness.

Also, you chaps aren't thinking through how this will work practically. Suppose an adoption worker visits a home of a gay male couple and sees lots of erotic art and a general openly sexual attitude. Do you think he/she will be able to do anything about his/her misgivings without having the ACLU on the case? The answer is no because by taking gender and sexual orientation out of the picture, you also take out sexuality itself.

I don't know what more I can say. Either you see we have an atavistic caution about putting young children in the intimate care of men who are not their natural fathers (including priests and brothers), and that we look to women to police it all, or you don't.

May 14, 2006 9:32 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, you are assuming way to much on our part. I agree that there should be no "right" to adoption. I agree that scrutiny of gay male couples should be higher than, say, a hetero couple or a lesbian couple. That wasn't the issue that I brought up. My issue is with religious exemptions to laws. I'm not even arguing that the Massachusetts law is good, I'm arguing that we live by laws without exceptions for whether we agree with them or not.

Your description of the dangers of non-birth fathers almost sounds as if you would rather have lesbian couples adopt children rather than heterosexual. So what is is your solution to the problem?

May 14, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It's not my story, but my paper has been going ape over the beating of a 2-year-old girl by her mother's boyfriend.

The girl has permanent brain damage.

The mother is some kind of loser, and the grandmother took care of the girl mostly.

Society intervened by putting the mother in a 'homeless shelter,' which allowed her to regain her child, as well as a boyfriend with a long and violent rap sheet.

He beat the girl, and a social worker noticed the damage, but the mother said the girl had 'fallen down stairs.'

So he beat her nearly to death.

Damfino how an adoption by 2 homosexual men could have worked out worse.

May 14, 2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

BTW, there is an interesting discussion thread at Darleen's Place on this same article.

May 14, 2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

I agree that scrutiny of gay male couples should be higher than, say, a hetero couple or a lesbian couple.

You mean it should be illegal to discriminate against gays but ok to discriminate against "that kind of gay"? Good luck. :-)

I don't have any magic solution. It might be honest to start by taking a look at the reality of human sexuality, marriage, gay culture etc, rather than starting by assuming a priori that it all dovetails nicely with the Bill of Rights. If we keep allowing notions of androgynous interchangeability and sex as a social construct to be enforced by constitutional rules of equality, I'm not sure there is one. What works in public life doesn't work in private, which is why so many women fought the ERA. Do you recall many blacks fighting civil rights? But, Duck, doesn't it trouble you at all that you see this whole matter as religious liberty vs. cultural values, and not as protecting and taking care of children?

Your question reminds me of those liberal ideologues who insisted on philosophical grounds there was absolutely no reason to think there would be any problem with women fully integrated into the military and then were puzzled when ships came into port full of pregnant women. I guess you either face reality or you distribute condoms quietly and hide behind shibboleths about education.

May 14, 2006 3:48 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Even if secular liberalism doesn't give the right answers, going back to the demonstrated failures of Christianity seems unproductive.

99% of American Catholics ignore the Church's teachings about sexuality because they understand that they are stupid.

May 14, 2006 9:42 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Well, I find myself disagreeing with just about everybody on this one. A better man would probably realize that he must be wrong, but not me.

Let's start with Peter. There are several parts of your argument that I find lacking.

You cite a number of abuses by male step-parents. A step-parent's primary motivation in entering the relationship with the partner is not the welfare of the existing children. Indeed, existing children are often a reason that man won't marry a woman. At best, the children are a slight positive. At worst, a huge negative, complete with misgivings and jealousy. It's no wonder that children are often abused by step parents. On the other hand, in the case of an adoptive couple, the only reason they're doing it is because they want the child. So you can't compare adoptive and step parent abuse.

I also don't buy the concept that only men make bad step-parents. Every culture has a Cinderella story, where the evil step-mother abuses the daughter. It's pretty universal that just as many step-mothers are as wicked as step fathers. You're focused on physical and sexual abuse, which, of course, is more commonly instigated by males, but there are many kinds of abuse that can make a child's life hell, and I think that step-mothers and step-fathers contribute to that fairly equally.

Also, I don't think that there will be all that many gay married couples adopting anyway. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal for several years, less than 1% of the adult gay population has chosen to get married. So it's not like it will make much of a difference either way.

Admittedly, I have a strong bias on this subject which I'll disclose. One of my cousins, who is gay, adopted a Chinese girl about a decade ago, and she and her partner are the most wonderful parents I've ever encountered. That little girl, who was abandoned in Red China, went from having one of the worst possible futures in the world (most likely she would have been malnourished, gotten sick, and died), to one of the best (growing up in a loving, well-off, well educated family in the United States). There's a network of lesbian couples with adopted Chinese girls, and from my observations, they're all great parents.

Next up is Duck.

A quick note. It wasn't clear in my diagramming that E2 is society, not gay couples. With that piece of information, you may want to take another look.

More importantly, you seem to claim to know the “One Right Way” to organize society around this issue. You seem to know where exactly to discriminate against gay couples in order to determine suitability and priority. All things equal, exactly how much more should a gay couple have than a straight couple in household wealth and income to qualify? How many more square feet of living space? Why are your answers to these questions right? Why are the Catholic Church's answers wrong (their answers would be $1 trillion and 1 million square feet)?

I think that given that gay marriage is legal, then there should be no such discrimination, and that gay and straight couples should be treated equally in terms of priority and suitability, especially by government organizations. And since religious ones will be driven out of business, as they have been in Massachusetts, government ones will be all there are.

Hey Skipper brings up the one issue that would get me to reverse myself.

You state that one is born with one's sexual orientation which implies that it's almost completely genetic, perhaps with some component arising while developing in the womb.

If true (I'm skeptical), then it leaves me wondering about those who claim to have a negative physical reaction (e.g., queasiness, nausea) when exposed to gay men kissing or otherwise being affectionate. If gayness is genetic, couldn't it be that the negative physical reaction is also genetic? Generally, it doesn't matter because few, if any, non-gays are subjected to in-your-face gay affection with any frequency.

But what about a boy child adopted by two gay men? What if there is a genetic component to the negative physical reaction and the child has those genes? It seems that would result in a long, traumatic childhood. Though still better than foster care I would think, depending on the severity of the reaction.

May 14, 2006 11:05 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


But surely the example of your cousin backs my general point that this issue is, at bottom, not a gay vs. hetero one, but a male vs. female one. Family affairs are messy and there are always lots of exceptions to any general rule, but that shouldn't mean we reject all general rules. Somewhere deep inside we believe young children usually fare best and are safest in the care of women and there is something atavistic about our caution here we would do well to listen to. That is why women still win most custody battles even when the law is gloriously gender-neutral, as it has been for decades now. Examples abound. How do you feel about a single mother giving her seven year old son a bath? How about a single dad his seven year old daughter? How about a separated dad his seven-year old adopted daughter? How about moms relaxing in the arms of their 11 year old sons on the TV sofa versus dads their daughters? You don't have to tell me lots of dads do all that just fine, I know that, but surely something twigs with one and not the other. It isn't just because of an immediate fear of outright abuse. It's that we feel one relationship should be structured with reference to notions of potential sexual, physical and emotional vulnerability that the other doesn't need.

I confess to a soft spot for step-moms because I am married to a great one, but even all the Cinderella stories are about coldness from the perspective of the child with a wimpy father pining away for a lost natural mother. Not the same thing, I suggest, and not terribly relevant to the question of adoption.

People here love to raise the Church scandals. OK, let's raise them. They happened because of three things coming together all at once: a)the growth and tolerance of a gay culture in the priesthood; b)a 1960's-bred loss of faith in celibacy; and c) an institution where men are frequently charged with the private, intimate care of boys.

Too bad the last is never talked about, because heteros get off too easy. I have no doubt the scandals would have involved girls if convents were run by (hetero)priests and brothers instead of nuns and tough, eagle-eyed Mothers Superior. From the perspective of the issue we are talking about here, the interesting thing is that there are rarely parallel scandals in convents, despite the fevered imaginations of 19th century, anti-clerical porn artists. I somehow doubt that is because the nuns are all stalwart heteros, it is because they are women. (Standing by now for a classic Harry story).

Duck asks about the adoptive father in a traditional marriage. The answer to that is that marriage, despite all the modern bumph, is not about the celebration of love and sexuality, at least not after the kids arrive. It is about the sublimation of it to duty and the care of others and it is the woman that drives that. Wise men let it happen, but they don't do it themselves.

Which is why the suspicion about gay men adopting can't be dismissed as irrational prejudice from a dark past. Forget prejudice and arguments over what is "natural" or not, Skipper, it's all quite beside the point. The issue is the absence of policewomen. Would you seriously allow a couple of hetero guys to adopt a little girl?

I am truly surprised by the number of times I've seen men here and elswhere start off posts with "I agree that sexual abuse is almost always a male crime..." and then go on to conclude we must not distinguish between men and women on abstract equality grounds. I appreciate "Will no one think of the children?" is a little hackneyed, but isn't it the ONLY question we should be asking here?

Finally, I appreciate, Duck, that your real cause here is making churches conform to the diktats of ideologically liberal, anti-religious, aggressive bureaucracies and judiciaries strutting their stuff under the guise of classical theories of popular sovereignty. Gotta teach these uppity Catholics a lesson and forestall the theocracy! Great fun, but don't complain to me if such madness meets resistance or results in ugly tragedies.

May 15, 2006 2:37 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


You state that one is born with one's sexual orientation which implies that it's almost completely genetic, perhaps with some component arising while developing in the womb.

No, it doesn't.

That sexual orientation is innate is, I think, practically beyond any serious debate. (Full disclosure: I have given this matter more than cursory examination because my brother is gay.)

But that doesn't mean it need have any genetically identifiable component whatsoever. All mammals start out on the female template, and it is only through the expressing of masculinizing hormones during gestatation that converts the female template to a male. (Indeed, XY females exist, and are significantly over represented among fashion models).

The genotype is the plan. The phenotype is the cross product of plan and process -- if the proper hormones aren't expressed in the proper amounts at the proper times, then the creation of a male from the female template, which most certainly includes brain wiring, will differ independently of the genotype.


Somewhere deep inside we believe young children usually fare best and are safest in the care of women and there is something atavistic about our caution here we would do well to listen to.

Absolutely, which is why I would put heterosexual couples at the top of the priority list, followed by lesbian couples, then, finally, homosexual male (I'll use "gay" to distinguish from "lesbian") couples.

(BTW, Based upon my anecdotal experience in this area, it seems to me that most gay couples include a person whose brain is a much better match for a woman's body than a man's.)

Forget prejudice and arguments over what is "natural" or not, Skipper, it's all quite beside the point. The issue is the absence of policewomen.

Well, no, it isn't quite beside the point, which is this: what is the alternative? If the alternative is adoption by a heterosexual couple, then the decision is a no-brainer. But for "hard to place" children, this alternative does not exist.

THe alternative that does exist, and against which this discussion should focus, is a childhood spent entirely in foster care.

So the question is entirely material: on average, in which environment do children do better (or, perhaps, suffer least): a childhood in foster care, or adoption by a same-sex couple?

I have no real idea, but suspect it is the latter. If that is that case (and it is a materially decidable issue, after all), then the CCB's position is morally reprehensible.

If it is not the case, then MA is morally obligated to forever bar adoption by homosexual couples, as a matter utterly divorced from any particular religious position.

May 15, 2006 5:24 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Absolutely, which is why I would put heterosexual couples at the top of the priority list, followed by lesbian couples, then, finally, homosexual male (I'll use "gay" to distinguish from "lesbian") couples.

Come on. This whole post is about the spectre of laws making it illegal to discriminate against gays in the adoption process. Under what theory of constitutional law do you think if that happens you will be able to prioritize like that? That is like saying it is illegal to discriminate against women in the workforce but ok to choose a man most of the time because we know how most men don't have those childcare conflicts.

May 15, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

More importantly, you seem to claim to know the “One Right Way” to organize society around this issue. You seem to know where exactly to discriminate against gay couples in order to determine suitability and priority. All things equal, exactly how much more should a gay couple have than a straight couple in household wealth and income to qualify? How many more square feet of living space? Why are your answers to these questions right?

These are my opinions, Bret, and I don't "know" them to be absolutely right. Can't someone express an opinion without being branded an ideological know it all? The point is, the law isn't based on my single opinion or anyone's single opinion, but the result of a democratic process of all people, at least those that choose to vote on it. The Catholic Church doesn't get a vote on it, but individual Catholics do.

As far as the tradeoffs between gay status and square footage of households, these are judgments that adoption authorities have to make. You can't just create an algorithm, there are human judgments to be made, and as always, these judgments can be wrong. I think that wise legislation should set guidelines and broad preferences, focused on the best interests of the child and not the adopting adults, and not try to micro-manage the outcomes by some politically correct formula.

This whole issue needs more study and objective, scientific evidence as to what the real risks and/or benefits the various forms of adoptions present. Neither the Church's nor the gay advocate's positions deserve unquestioning acceptance.

May 15, 2006 8:36 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Come on. This whole post is about the spectre of laws making it illegal to discriminate against gays in the adoption process. Under what theory of constitutional law do you think if that happens you will be able to prioritize like that?

The theory of constitutional law that states significantly different material outcomes are sufficient reason.

Drunks, as a group, do not have the same "right" to drive as sober drivers, because of the material consequences.

Similarly here. If it is demonstrable that children of same-sex couples fare worse than the other available options, then under what theory of constituional law do we get to ignore that result?

So far as I can tell, neither the CCB, nor the Vatican, have even begun to address the various outcomes. Until they do, their position is simply vacuous.

As is the position of gay advocates, for that matter.

(I don't have any links, and the usual caveats about memory apply, but I have read elsewhere that the outcomes for children in stable same-sex parent households are not significantly different than for their counterparts with heterosexual parents. What's more, the outcomes are far better than those produced by foster care.)

May 15, 2006 9:18 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Duck wrote: "Can't someone express an opinion without being branded an ideological know it all?"

Sure, I'm all for diverse opinions. Heck, that's why I like The Daily Duck. When people express the opinion, "hey, CCB, your 'position is morally reprehensible'", I'm all for it - in fact, I don't disagree in this particular case.

What I don't like, is when people want their opinions to become law. My opinion is that advocating encoding moral principles into law is a bad idea. I realize that providing an exception to CCB possibly falls under that heading. But the concept of enforcing moral licensing criteria for all adoption agents across the state certainly does as well. That's Statism, pure an simple. Statism hasn't worked so well anywhere, ever, so it's hard for me to get behind for an issue like this.

Duck wrote: "the law isn't based on my single opinion or anyone's single opinion, but the result of a democratic process of all people, at least those that choose to vote on it."

Oh? Did the people actually specifically directly vote on that particular law? Or did they elect someone to represent them on a wide variety of issues? And are you sure that representative's vote on this specific issue really reflected their opinions?

Duck wrote: "I think that wise legislation should set guidelines and broad preferences..."

I certainly agree with that, but the end effect of the current legislation will be as narrow as narrow can be, won't it? Adoption agencies shall not take sexual orientation into account. Period.

Wouldn't it be better if each adoption agency was free to place children as it saw fit as long as it could plausibly defend each placement as likely to be beneficial to the child. Some might specialize in placing children with gay couples. CCB would be free to place children using the criteria that it thinks best. There would be a wide variety of agencies working on the behalf of children, each using its localized knowledge and experience. I believe the outcome would be far better than mandating that every agency be required to perform every type of placement. It's a Hayekian or Wisdom of Crowds sort of approach as opposed to a Statist approach where "scientific evidence" sponsered by a central authority becomes gospel.

Instead, there's one less player in the adoption game. It may be that society as a whole will be better off for it in the long run, but I think it's a bad approach and is a very fragile, non-robust solution.

May 15, 2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It isn't correct to say that if religious adoption agencies are driven out, only state agencies remain.

There are plenty of market-driven adoption agencies. My friend who adopted the Russian girl used one.

We've heard enough horror stories about those, although they seem to work well enough when run by people with humane attitudes.

As near as I can tell, the Siberian orphanage my friend's daughter came from was motivated by poverty: they had more children coming in than they could feed. And the middleman was motivated by a reasonable profit motive.

No, Peter, I don't have any horror story about positive sexual abuse on novitiates by nuns; although I do have negative ones: the Horror Sexualis induced in young girls by nuns is a form of abuse.

My sister had a close friend who was an Irish priest. He said something to the effect that 'our convents produce the best nuns and the best whores, nothing in between.'

As for the church's other sexual sins, the gay priest syndrome may be newish (it certainly surprised me when it blew up, there was never a hint of it in the dim days of my catholicism), but priest sexual abuse of women has a long history.

Power corrupts.


I don't know enough about the varieties of Cinderella stories to say, but there are whole cultures (China, for one) in which stepmothers and mothers-in-law are expected to behave like monsters to their stepdaughters or daughters-in-law.

May 15, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

This whole issue needs more study and objective, scientific evidence...


...must calm down and keep repeating to myself...:

"You're a Juddian, not a're a Juddian not a..."

May 15, 2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

I have to admit that I expected you might choke on that statement by Duck. Even I found it troubling.

May 15, 2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Why so troubling? You don't believe that an honest study of adoptions to date covering both heterosexual and homosexual couples won't give society any guidance for setting adoption guidelines?

May 15, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Oh, an honest study. I thought you said a scientific study. Whew!

May 15, 2006 12:54 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

For me to rely on objective scientific research, all of the following premises would have to be true:
1. The topic is amenable to scientific investigation
2. The scientific research would have to be objective
3. The research would have to be duplicable and verifiable
4. The results would have little room for contradictory interpretation

In my opinion, not even a single one of these premises will be satisfied regarding research into the effects of single sex couples' parenting on adoptees, at least not for a long, long time.

For (1), because of the large number of degrees of freedom, they require massive amounts of data to make even the most basic correlations, and often aren't successful even there. In addition, since groups like CCB are being shut down, how can data be gathered regarding whether or not they were beneficial?

For (2), we see the intensity of passion on this subject even in this little group, where none of us really has a direct interest. Researchers who go into these fields tend to be even more passionate, making it less likely that the analysis they produce is honest and objective.

For (3), the massive amounts of data required make duplication and verification difficult and very long term.

For (4), the question is so complex, how can one say an outcome is better or worse (unless it's miraculously clear cut)? Who gets to trade off higher and lower incomes, fewer or more children, higher or lower levels of educational attainment, higher or lower levels of religiosity, higher or lower levels of homosexuality, higher or lower levels of happiness (however that would be measured), etc.? In other words, to have a group of scientists (who have a very, very specific worldview) say "hey, we've determined that adoptees who are adopted by single sex couples are better off", would be basically meaningless to society as a whole and planning on relying on their inherently non-objective judgements is, to me, troubling.

May 15, 2006 1:01 PM  
Blogger Duck said...


Well, I guess that you would pretty much deny science any role in any social policy making effort. But you are exaggerating the level of precision and certainty that would have to be attained in order to make such studies useful for policy purposes. I think that you could measure a set of threshhold conditions that would indicate whether a policy of allowing gay and lesbian couples the opportunity for adopting children were achieving acceptable outcomes. Like the number of reported emergency room visits for the adopted children, or the number of mental health interventions, or the amount of substance abuse or high school graduation rates, or police visits to a home, or, at the extreme end, the rate of abuse and molestation by adopted parents or their acquaintances. If allowing homosexual adoptions were to turn out to be a big mistake, then you'd expect to see it reflected in statistics like these.

There have been such studies, and judging from this article (thanks to Jerzy from his post at Darleen's Place) they show that there isn't much different in outcomes between straight and homosexual parents. Warning: cited article is published by the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.

May 15, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

How do you think honest studies are conducted? Does it involve sheep entrails, glowing auras, burning bushes, or just relying on the common sense of crotchety old men who walked 20 miles to school every day through 10 foot snow drifts?

May 15, 2006 2:58 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Heck no, Duck. I mean, if it's good enough for the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and the Streisand Professor of Contemporary Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, it's good enough for me. After all, it is SCIENCE we are talking about here, no?

All together now: "Research shows..."

May 15, 2006 3:42 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Duck wrote: "I guess that you would pretty much deny science any role in any social policy making effort."

I would not deny scientists some participation in the process. It's the idea that the sole basis for policy decisions comes from analysis by social scientists (whom I barely consider scientists in the first place) that I find troubling. I've worked with researchers doing human studies and trials and from what I've seen it's extremely difficult to get it right.

Duck wrote: "I think that you could measure a set of threshhold conditions that would indicate whether a policy of allowing gay and lesbian couples the opportunity for adopting children were achieving acceptable outcomes."

I think that would be very hard, but maybe. The bigger the problem (if any) the more likely you'd be able to detect it. However, I'm still questioning who gets to decide what an acceptable outcome is.

Warning: cited article is published by the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.

That's very funny! You have a great sense of humor.

No doubt if I showed you "scientific" research by the Discovery Institute that showed adoptees do better in devoutly Christian households, you'd advocate for only placing children in gay Christian homes!

May 15, 2006 4:09 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

sole basis for policy decisions comes from analysis by social scientists

I'm certainly not advocating that. It's the numbers, the statistics that are important, not the "expert opinion" of experts. In the end, such decisions belong to the non-expert opinions of voters.

Dennis Prager has a good attitude toward the role of "experts" that I wholly agree with. They are there to give you information, not to make decisions for you. He once mentioned that it drives him crazy that schools will have a policy of keeping classroom doors shut during class time because fire marshals, the "experts" on fire prevention, order them to. Yet what is the risk, how often do schools burn down? There are other considerations as well, like how it feels to be in a poorly ventilated classroom during a hot day with the doors closed. His point is that we shouldn't cede major decisions like how we run our schools or other institutions based on the opinions of experts, but make our own judgments based on information that experts may provide us, for what that information is worth.

May 15, 2006 4:53 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Duck, we're in closer agreement than I thought on the use of science then. I'm somewhat more skeptical than you regarding the input from science, but hey, I'm probably more skeptical than you about just about everything.

May 15, 2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, if you can point me to an honest, respectable study that shows the unsuitability of same sex parents, please do. I've been googling for one and haven't found one yet. But there is this article by Dahlia Lithwick that is worth reading.

The arguments for locking gay parents out of formal parenting arrangements include the familiar litany of complaints about health, morals, and the sanctity of traditional marriage. But when real family-court judges face real children in real long-term family relationships, those arguments are quickly blunted by real concerns. In this week's Weekly Standard, Sara Butler Nardo, of the Institute for American Values, tries to take just such a whack at the expanding legal notion of parenting. She dismisses "de facto," or "psychological," parenthood—equitable remedies used by judges to preserve relationships between children and their gay parents—as a wacky "new concept" (it's been around for years) invented by reckless judges to "serve adults more than children." Nardo warns that while we are loudly and properly debating the legal change in the word marriage, the legal definition of the word parent is "quietly" changing under our noses.

But where Nardo and social conservatives are dead wrong is just here: If in fact judges around this country are increasingly inclined to recognize the validity of same-sex parenting arrangements, it's not because they are activists, or because they're mangling a long-established tradition of family law to do so. Courts that adopt broader visions of "parent" and "family" aren't reading radical new rights into their state constitutions. They are doing precisely what family courts are asked to do: Make a determination about what's in the "best interest of the child." That standard remains the polestar for judicial decision-making in both the adoption and custody contexts. And, as it turns out, most children usually have larger and more urgent concerns than what their parents do in bed.

As a lawyer who is conversant in the reality that family law is a comlex subject that can't be fit into tidy little theories, I thought that you would appreciate that last paragraph.

May 15, 2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Considering how often you cite studies showing how poorly children do after divorce, I'm surprised at your skepticism here.


I am as cynical about social scientists as the next well-read conservative. However, it is possible to pose and conduct a statistically valid study that is capable of finding valid correlations between parents' gender and childhood outcomes.

Particularly when the choices -- adoptive parents on one hand, foster care on the other -- are pretty stark.

The material merits one way or the other are certainly obtainable.

The CCB's and The Vatican's position on this subject, in the complete absence of any information, has left their moral judgment a hostage to fortune.

May 15, 2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


I have absolutely no doubt that gay natural parents are every bit as protective and committed to their children as anyone else. I wouldn't worry about abuse or second-rate parenting for a moment. However...

And, as it turns out, most children usually have larger and more urgent concerns than what their parents do in bed....

is the kind of nice, flippant remark modern adults who refuse to admit that their sexuality can affect their children and can be in conflict with their children's well-being just love to make, especially when it involves a new partner. It certainly doesn't originate with kids, who are notoriously highly embarassed by any overt sexuality in the household. I don't believe that for a moment, and I don't believe bringing a strange man sexually connected to the natural parent into the home is a neutral consideration. Beyond that, it is hard to make general assertions, but we are talking about general policy administered broadly by bureaucrtas here, not conducting exhaustive public inquiries into individual relationships.

BTW, don't you find it just a tad suspicious that gay marriage has only been around for a year or two but there are already these "scientific" studies proving gay marriages are just as good at parenting as hetero ones? Assuming they are not totally fabricated, they must be looking at non-married gay couples who are raising one of the partner's kids. And doesn't this sound suspiciously like those studies we used to read all the time that "proved" it didn't matter whether the parents were married or not--it was the quality of the parenting that counted. Where are they now?

A tip. Beware of anyone who talks a lot about "parenting" when discussing family law, as if it were a technique analagous to cooking. And take out your gun anytime you hear the phrase "best interests of the child" more than once in three paragraphs.

May 15, 2006 6:02 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


Considering how often you cite studies showing how poorly children do after divorce, I'm surprised at your skepticism here.

Uh, Skipper, didn't your mommy ever tell you about the birds and the bees? Don't you understand that almost all kids being parented by gay couples are products of divorce in some way?

May 15, 2006 6:07 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

If I did that, I'd have shot you long ago ;-)

May 15, 2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "The material merits one way or the other are certainly obtainable."

Certainly not certainly! Too many degrees of freedom, too hard to measure with high confidence, etc. I'd give it a "maybe" with enough time and data.

May 15, 2006 6:15 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


Can you answer Bret's point? Is your idea about what constitutes successful parenting a child who wins an Olympic medal or corners the pork belly market, or one who establishes his/her own succesful marriage and family? Does it matter? Should we care?


Oooh, you bitch! I'm taking my ball and going home!:-)

May 15, 2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Family Court hearings are closed in this state, but I did have a chance in another state to follow the proceedings when my best friend's wife went crazy.

Bottom line: she got the kids.

It seems unlikely that a Family Court does get, or even could get, enough information to really understand what's going on in a breaking-up marriage. Often enough, the partners (or one of them) don't understand what's going on.

A very good friend of mine died last year, leaving behind an angry, rebellious 14-year-old daughter. The daughter went to live with her father, the worst possible place.

I just don't think homosexual adoption, as such, is worth worrying about, considering how short we manage to come up on the heterosexual ones.

May 15, 2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Can you answer Bret's point?

Yes, I think I can.

First, the analysis has to look at the options in play: same-sex parent adoption v. foster care.

There are several good-parenting rate proxies that are available. For example: juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy & high school graduation.

It is a simple matter to determine to what extent those rates vary between the two options (this sort of analyses is identical to the sort cited when noting how much more poorly children of divorce fare, while avoiding the inaccurate presumption that both groups are otherwise identical.) That is to say, whether there are correlations, and if they are consistent.

Presuming there are significant correlations, and they are consistent, then I think it is every bit as safe a conclusion to say that one alternative, or the other, produces better outcomes. The "why" would still be a mystery, but the "what" far less so.

Is your idea about what constitutes successful parenting a child who wins an Olympic medal or ... one who [successfully marries]? Does it matter? Should we care?

As I outlined above, I believe there are easily identified proxies that can identify the advisability of one alternative over another.

Does it matter? Most certainly, which is why we should care enough to ask the obvious question.

CCB and The Vatican have run themselves right out on a limb on this.

Why? Because the alternatives are amenable to rigoroous material analysis. I predict that the result will be that same-sex adoptive parents produce far lower rates of the proxies I cited above.

In that event, the CCB and The Vatican will be backing a demonstrably harmful course of action, insisting nonetheless on its because-God-said-so morality.

Of course, if my prediction is wrong, and the outcomes are completely reversed, then I am all in favor of completely banning all same-sex adoption, surrogate parenthood, etc.


Because it demonstrably makes no sense.

May 17, 2006 9:07 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Hey Skipper,

Yes, you answered my point and your answers are good from a Statist point of view. After all, the State can and should only rely on objective, potentially measurable, and amoral proxies. Indeed, if the State is going to tightly regulate and direct adoption, I think that since gay married couples will likely do just as well as heterosexual married couples according to the proxies you've identified, that the gay couples should be given exactly equal priority for being assigned children as heterosexual couples once gay marriage is legalized.

But the proxies miss the bigger and longer term picture. Will the future children and grandchildren (if any) be better off? Will society be better off in 50 or 100 years? What does better off even mean? There's no way for the State to answer these questions because (a) there's inherently a moral component and (b) they're probably immeasurable anyway.

The Statist approach says "hey, there's no way we (the State) can measure the relevant data and answer such questions anyway, so we won't take it into account." Or even worse (in my opinion), the State says "we're certain that the way we're proceeding is the One Right Way."

The self-organizing approach is to enable many groups with many different perspectives and moral codes each be involved and making decisions as they think best. I would greatly prefer that there continued to be many non-government adoption agencies, each allowed to place children as they see fit. In my opinion, removing that removes information from the system and reduces robustness (increases fragility). Some of them will no doubt be wrong (whatever that means), but many will be as right as possible, and the overall outcome will be better (again in my opinion) than the Statist approach.

Again, I prefer the distributed self-organizing approach, but I certainly understand the appeal of Statism (especially when backed by Science!!!). It's, of course, the same appeal that the big Spook in the sky (as Harry refers to it) provides.

May 17, 2006 2:27 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


What if it turned out the proxy rates for the only alternative on offer, foster parents, were, say, 50 times that of same-sex parents?

Is that grounds for taking any sort of decision whatsoever?

How about if it was the other way around, what then?

I am fully sympathetic with the perpetual overreach of the social "sciences."

But if there are significant differences in proxy rates, upon what basis would you continue to allow the inferior alternative, while still banning, say, driving under the influence?

May 17, 2006 3:47 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "...upon what basis would you continue to allow the inferior alternative...?"

For this specific case, where the fact that CCB wouldn't place foster kids with gay couples didn't preclude other agencies from placing kids with gay couples, and the families that CCB placed kids with were probably adequate, there's no difference in proxy results that would cause me to prohibit CCB from placing kids. Especially since I believe that other adoption agencies would have picked up the ball when it came to placing kids with gay couples (and probably more adoption agencies would have been created to cater to gay demand).

But this case isn't probably the best example for your question in that CCB wasn't doing any active harm to the children, just possibly passive harm by not placing some of them. And, again, other agencies might well have picked up the slack.

So let's take a hypothetical and more extreme case to better illustrate my view. Let's say an adoption agency sprung up that specialized in placing foster kids with convicted child sex offenders who had finished their sentence and were married. Note that it's totally plausible, given just how bad State foster care is, that children placed into such situations might still do better on the proxies you picked compared with their foster care counterparts, though for now assume that it's unknown how they'll do on said proxies.

In this case, I'd borrow the logic that Nozick uses in Anarchy, State, Utopia to justify the regulation of reckless behavior, the presence of which instills fear in the rest of the citizenry. I'd say it would be clearly reckless behavior to place children in such a situation. The State's primary job (and according to Nozick, its only job) is protection and thus would be justified in preventing this situation.

But note that it has nothing to do with the proxies.

May 17, 2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...


I could respond, but it would take time and I'm very busy finishing up my scientific study on what is the best kind of woman to marry. It's going extremely well, but man, those proxy rates are a bugger.

May 18, 2006 3:53 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


... those proxy rates are a bugger.

Exactly like when you assess how damaging divorce is to children.

May 18, 2006 7:03 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

We've already run numerous experiments for a long time on where to place children who've lost (or been taken away from) their parents.

There is a mountain of evidence that putting them anywhere near the Catholic church is very, very bad for them.

The real public issue here is not whether Catholics should be prevented from placing children with heterosexual adopters but whether Catholics should be excluded from contact with children, period.

The reasonable man test surely applies here.

May 18, 2006 12:30 PM  

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