Monday, March 16, 2009

All Things Being Equal

SALEM, OR - MARCH 7:  Tina and Melissa Lesley-...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Wow. It's amazing how the world turns.  For most of my life, I was a liberal trapped in conservative churches.  I was afraid to speak out for fear of being criticized.  Now, I attend a progressive church.  It's  pretty cool.  I'm surrounded by liberals and pretty much Democrats.  But, as I've always said I don't allow being a liberal or a Democrat to define me. It simply describes me because I agree with them on most issues.  Recently, Butler County (the bastion of Conservatism I call home) said they are going to favor "traditional" couples over singles, co-habitating and gay couples when it comes to adoption.  One of the lesbian couples in our church copied me on an email bringing this to my attention.  I read the article with great concern.  I am now firmly committed full rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, whatever.  Living in Butler County, I would not be surprised in the least if they announced a hateful and immoral policy.  But, I have to say after having read the article, I think some in our church have overreacted.

The policy says that, all things being equal, traditional couples will be given priority over singles, gay couples or people who are co-habitating.  Michael Fox, who spoke about the policy, made it clear that the policy does not mean children will not be left orphans because the county will refuse to place them with gays or with single parents.  The policy does not state that a lousy married couple will be given a child while a loving, commited gay couple or a single parent who would make a wonderful mom is denied.  Mr. Fox said the best interests of the child is the trump card. I have to say that he said everything I would hope he'd say when laying out a policy for adoption.   The best interests of the child should trump any concern for political correctness or the interests of any group. Period.  End of story.  Adoptions are not about personal fulfillment for the person adopting, they're about providing the best home possible for the child and giving them the greatest chance at the best life possible.

When I first heard about the policy and read the article, I kept quiet. Mike (our pastor) characterized the policy as "immoral and hateful".  I thought "Hmmm.... maybe I should reread the article".  And I did.  Then, I reread it again.  I hate to disagree with Mike and I can't believe I find myself on the side of Butler County.  But, I don't find the policy hateful or immoral at all. Maybe the fact that it's actually being said out loud is a little shocking.  And, I do have to wonder what the motivation is for making it a policy statement now.  I would not be at all surprised to find Butler County actually discriminating against gay couples, single parents or co-habitating people when it comes to adoptions.  And the moment I find out that is the case, I will be outraged and ready to fight the policy.

To state what I would hope is obvious to anyone who knows me, I'm not saying that married couples will always be better than a single person for adoption placement.  I'm not saying that single parents can't be wonderful parents.  I'm not saying that gay or lesbian couples can't raise children succesfully or that they can never do a better job than a "traditional couple".  But, I do think that each of these situations has its own particular stressors for a child and that, all things being equal, I'd prefer to see children placed with heterosexual married couples.  Just like I think, all things being equal, black children should be placed with black families.  All things are never equal, BTW.  And, a policy like this can certainly be an excuse for discrimination.  I'm not naive enough to think it's not really a veiled way to say that non-traditional homes will be discriminated against.  I think the fact that it's now been stated is cause for concern and it merits watching.  But, I think to call it hateful and immoral is an overreaction.
You can read the article for yourself here  I'd be curious to know what you think about it.  If I'm missing something, please point it out to me. 
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kc bob said...

What a great and thoughtful treatment of this by you Brian.

Do you think that co-habitating heterosexuals have the same commitment level as the co-habitating homosexuals? Seems one can enter into a legal union (and doesn't) where the other cannot enter into one (and probably would if they could).

Brian said...


Excellent point! I would say that co-habitating heterosexuals do not have the same commitment level as co-habitating homosexuals since they are not exercising the option of marriage which is available to them. Personally, all things being equal, I'd place a child with a committed homosexual couple over a co-habitating heterosexual couple.

karen said...

Tough call, here. I agree with you both. My gay friends are either already parents, or have nieces and nephews and don't desire parenthood. My nephew is African-American, and I pray that he gets to embrace his heritage.
I'll read the article and check back.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the article. I'm sorry to say this, but the assumption that a heterosexual marriage will be a sound environment for a child is just not one we can afford to make these days. We should look at the health of the particular environment for that child..are they comfortable with the parent(s) they will have, will their needs be met, etc. It sounds like a communitarian approach (honoring values of the community), but it does leave out some people who have been successful adopters in the past (as evidenced by the quotes). i would keep it on a case-to-case basis.

Brian said...

Thanks for your reply, Portia. I'm glad to have someone reply. I know people from my church read my blog (at least occasionally) and no one has said anything.

I didn't get the impression (from the article) that the assumption would be a heterosexual union would be stable.

I agree with what you are saying, there are cases where a homosexual home would be better than a heterosexual home. The policy, as stated, does not disallow for that. But, as you say, simply based on community values, a homosexual home would be a more difficult or stressful environment for a child, all other factors being equal. I think the welfare of the child has to be of the utmost concern.

To reiterate, I would be against any policy that says homosexual couples, or single parents could not adopt or a policy that left children in orphanages as opposed to placing them in loving homes. I would be against any policy that automatically favored heterosexual couples over homosexual couples without considering all other factors. But, I still cannot see how this policy is hateful or immoral, as our pastor has categorized it.