The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, April 17, 2009

This morning I read a comment on the post I made yesterday entitled "What is this fight all about?" It made two points, the second of which could be disposed of rather quickly. But the poster's first point was really a number of points all rolled up into one, and it required some time thinking about it so I could produce a thought-out reply. He said:

The first is adoption. What some don't realize is that Catholic Charities is the largest facilitator of adoptions in the country. Now, in certain states where gay marriage has become legal, CC has been forced to get out of the adoption business because they must - by law - extend adoption rights to legally married couples. It's clear (on religious grounds) why CC would rather fold than facilitate such a thing.

Every study under the sun has concluded the same thing: children do best with a mother and a father, and by politicizing the issue in the name of "rights," I find many wrapped up in a kind of narcissism which disregards the welfare of children. So this points toward your "who would be hurt" concern.

There are so many separate items here that they need to be taken up separately.

  1. Let's consider the remarks that "Catholic Charities is the largest facilitator of adoptions in the country... [I]n certain states where gay marriage has become legal, CC has been forced to get out of the adoption business because they must - by law - extend adoption rights to legally married couples."
    • Should a private organization (particularly a religious organization) have a veto over the laws of a State, especialy inasmuch as they affect people of other beliefs than theirs? If the Union of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, which certifies that food is Kosher so that those Jews who believe this is important know what they can and cannot eat, were to petition the legislature of any State to pass a law barring the sale of pork in the State, because it means that inadvertent contamination of Kosher food is more likely, what would be the likelihood of its being enacted?
    • Is the Catholic Charities organization really totally unable to use discretion in determining whether a couple is fit to adopt a child? Suppose that a couple whose religious beliefs were about the same as those of Richard Dawkins came to them to get a child to adopt. I suspect that CC would conclude that such a couple might be harmful to the spiritual health of the child, and would probably refuse to help them adopt.
  2. In any case, joining the issue of adoption to that of marriage is something of a red herring. Single people can adopt -- and even unmarried couples can adopt. (Ever hear of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt?) Gay couples -- even in the majority of States, which do not have gay marriage -- do adopt children. It may be difficult, and there are states where they cannot, but they do it in some states. So that's not a major issue.
  3. Furthermore, consider the statement that "children do best with a mother and a father." As compared to what? Have there been any studies comparing families headed by same-sex couples to those headed by heterosexual couples? Are there even enough families headed by same-sex couples to provide statistically-significant results? I believe (give me a citation if you can show otherwise) that any studies that have "concluded ... [that] children do best with a mother and a father" compare them to children in single-parent households. That is irrelevant to the question of whether gay couples should be allowed to marry and adopt.

As I said in my post yesterday, I think that advocates of same-sex marriage would better expend their effort to provide for civil unions or other equivalents to marriage in those states that do not have them, but I see no reason to repeal the laws where same-sex mariage has already been legalized.


Asclepius said...

Addressing your third bullet point: Just this month, the American College of Pediatricians released a statement noting:

"During the last two decades, medical research has even confirmed the existence of genetically-determined gender differences in brain anatomy, neural pathways, cognitive processing, and hormone physiology. These account for differences in how men and women relate to people and the world around them, which in turn explains why parenting differences between the genders are not mere social constructs. Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable and neither is dispensable. Two women cannot compensate for the absence of a father, and two men cannot fill the unique role of a mother. In addition, social science research clearly demonstrates that the further society deviates from the model of the fundamental mother/father family unit, the more children and society suffer."

The data's out there, of course, but I submit this as a mere summation more befitting to a combox.

Addressing your first bullet point, sub. 1: To answer your question re: a private organization having a veto, absolutely, though not in the way you present it. The Supreme Court has upheld this in regard to membership rights in private organizations as well. For instance, you cannot force the Boy Scouts to accept an atheist any more than you can the KKK to take a Catholic like myself. Likewise, you cannot force any private organization to act against its conscience, especially if it feels that a mandate is unjust.Note the differences in our examples. While you posit a private organization forcing a mandate upon the population at large, I submit the alternative with my example, where the state forces a mandate upon a private organization.

This brings us to sub. 2. Of course, CC is able to practice discretion, and does so now (consequently, CC does not make religion a part of the vetting process in most places, so Dawkins would - to the best of my knowledge - not meet contention for his lack of religious belief in most locales. Note that facilitating adoptions between non-Catholic couples in no way violates any tenant of the Catholic faith).

The whole problem is that CC could no longer use this as a part of the vetting process, legally. Click here to see what they're thinking in MA.

Opinionator said...

The article that you referenced with your "click here" link is three years old. (I hadn't noticed that at first, until I got to the reference to Mitt Romney as the sitting governor of Massachusetts!) So I don't know what has happened since then.

Do not let the ideal be the enemy of the good. Perhaps it may be best for a child to have a father and a mother; it is certainly better, however, for a child to have two loving adoptive parents of the same sex than nobody at all.

Since you are a Catholic, of course, you believe your church's teaching is correct. The point I make is that there are an awful lot of people who disagree. And imposing Catholic dogma on them is as evil a thing as imposing on you and other Catholics the beliefs of others. We have a bit of a conflict inherent in the First Amendment. People who feel that the free exercise of
their religion requires the Government caving into their own religious beliefs leads to their trying to force an establishment of their religion on others.

The article you referenced actually states that CC has actually placed some kids with gay couples. ("In the past two decades, Catholic Charities has placed 720 children in adoptive homes, including 13 with same-sex couples.") Is it a greater transgression of Catholic doctrine to place a kid with a gay couple that the State considers married (but which the Church would not accept as such) than to place a kid with a gay couple that is not married because the State doesn't permit it?