Politics & Policy

To Prevent ‘Discrimination’ against Gays, the Left Would Destroy Religious Liberty

(Brad Calkins/Dreamstime)

This morning The Atlantic ran a long piece asking whether Christian adoption agencies should be “allowed to discriminate against gay parents.” The story is written in the classic liberal style, as the favored group recounts its experience with “discrimination,” and the demonized religious conservatives are left explaining why they hurt such good people. But look closely and you’ll notice a key fact: All of the gay families the author spoke to ultimately succeeded in adopting and/or fostering children.

The first couple mentioned in the story, Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer, has “three foster children and 10 adopted children.” Then there are Tod and Tom McMillen-Oakley, “who have adopted two children, one through a private adoption and one from the state of Michigan.” Tod and Tom also tell of going to a “beach event” for “gay parents of adopted children” — an event where “the beach was lined with gay couples and their foster children.”

In other words, the “discriminatory” Christian agencies aren’t actually blocking gay adoptions. Gay couples looking to adopt or foster children just have to seek out one of the many secular organizations willing to serve them. Under current law in most states, Christian adoption agencies are able to place children — according to the dictates of their faith — with the mother/father families they favor, while gay couples are able to foster and adopt through other agencies. Where, exactly, is the oppression? Isn’t that exactly the kind of “win/win” solution that allows pluralistic democracies to survive and thrive?

If you look at the other notorious tales of Christian bigotry, the oppression is similarly hard to find. No gay couple in America has been denied a photographer, a florist, or a baker. In the handful of cases where Christian business owners declined to participate in same-sex weddings, plenty of other vendors were willing to step in. Kim Davis could not block a single gay person from getting married. Even at the height of her stand, frustrated gay couples could drive a short distance and get a marriage license from any neighboring county.

#share#Since no one is being denied a child, a marriage, or a product, the “injury” is typically some combination of hurt feelings and inconvenience. But to prevent a few tears, the Left is willing to force adoption agencies to close, financially ruin Christian business owners, and toss clerks in jail. And they’re willing to do so even when their own bigotry substantially hurts the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. In Michigan — a state highlighted in The Atlantic’s report — explicitly Christian agencies arrange a substantial percentage of the state’s adoptions:

Indeed, if faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan closed their doors, the state would have a problem. The state of Michigan doesn’t track which agencies are faith-based, but Bethany Christian Services and various subsets of Catholic Charities . . . together helped finalize 689 adoptions last year, about one-third of the total in the state, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Add other agencies with a religion in their title, whether it be Lutheran or Methodist, and faith-based agencies finalized 1,128 adoptions in Michigan, more than half of those completed last year.

But no matter. A few gay parents’ feelings are hurt, so the Left wants to present Christian adoption agencies with a stark choice: violate the teachings of your church or close your doors.

Respecting the rights of Christian adoption agencies doesn’t prevent gay adoption.

In reality, Christian requests for religious-liberty-based accommodations provide a pluralistic democracy with the only viable way to preserve long-held First Amendment freedoms while also protecting the newly discovered rights of LGBT Americans. Allowing Kim Davis to opt out of issuing licenses under her name does not deprive anyone of the right to marry. Respecting the rights of Christian adoption agencies doesn’t prevent gay adoption. And gay weddings still feature fabulous cakes even if a baker here and there doesn’t want to help celebrate the nuptials.

The prevalence of bumper-sticker declarations to the contrary, the secular Left is less interested in coexistence than in domination and exclusion. The model here is the legal, cultural, and political response to white supremacy. And the contemporary villains, instead of being murderous, cross-burning Klansmen, are America’s most generous citizens, people of faith who give both their time and their money to helping others.

#related#It’s important to remember that the sexual revolution was born out of deep hostility to traditional religious faith — and that its primary aim was not the creation of “alternative” ways of thinking and living so much as the birth of a new orthodoxy to supplant the old one. For many on the left, winning new freedom is only half the battle. To them, there are no “win/win” solutions if Christian liberty is respected. There is only “win/lose”: They win, we lose, and we disappear. It is only then that gay couples will weep no more, and diversity will triumph the world over. As for those poor kids without homes? The state can handle them.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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