Tuesday, December 8, 2009
A small example of how inaccuracies are passed off as facts
Part way through the hearing Kincaid writes that someone has stated that Catholic Charities in Massachusetts lost its license to provide adoption after same-ex marriage was deemed constitutional. Then he writes in parenthesis, completely untrue.
And it most certainly is. This is an important point, because religious exemptions have been proposed to many of the marriage bills, including this one in New Jersey. They have been seen as friendly amendments, not proposed changes to water down the law or lessen chances of its passage. I haven't spoken to any same-sex marriage supporter who believes that churches should be required to marry same-sex couples. Separation of Church and State means just that. But this is the fear that is being fostered. And as long as a falsehood like Catholic Charities in Massachusetts lost its license to provide adoption is allowed to go unquestioned, these falsehoods will continue perpetuating that fear.
The story with Catholic Charities in Massachusetts is quite simple. For 103 years, the organization placed children in foster homes, including some foster homes with same-sex couples. This was what the organization did. After same-sex marriage became an option in Massachusetts, the Catholic Church, having spent over a million dollars trying to defeat it, lost the battle. It then decided that it change its policy and not place foster children with same-sex couples as it had done for years. Cardinal Sean O'Malley (right) even used the term "do violence to them," to describe what happened to children in these situations.
Catholic Charities worked through the Department of Social Services in Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts cannot legally discriminate, so Catholic Charities was not allowed to change its stance on same-sex foster parents that it had embraced for many years. As a result, many members of the Board of Catholic Charities resigned, not in protest over same-sex marriage but over the church's decision to change its adoption policy. These board members are lay leaders in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, including the Chair of the Committee, Peter Meade (left), who wrote an op-ed in a Boston newspaper explaining his decision as well as his support for same-sex marriage.
So Catholic Charities did not lose its license to place children in foster homes any more than it will lose permission to feed the poor in Washington if it follows though on its threat to withdraw its social service support in DC if the city allows same-sex marriage.
In the midst of heated debate, sometimes people misspeak without knowing it. Other times, however, the "inaccuracy" is not a slip of the tongue at all. Statements are calculated to instill fear, in this case fear that religious institutions will be required to marry gay people or lose their tax exempt status. This is simply false.
Thanks, of course, to Timothy Kincaid at Turtle Box Bulletin, for his report on the hearings.