Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Letter to Jeff Jacoby

Dear Mr. Jacoby:

I’m writing in response to your claim in your March 16 op-ed piece in the Boston Globe that the Human Rights Campaign’s choice of words, “ugly political agenda” in regard to the Catholic Church’s decision to prohibit gay adoptions was a “projection.”

Your thinking is muddled on at least two levels. You are working on the assumption that any idea, as long as it is held by a religious institution, is worthy of respect. And on the assumption that when that institution acts in the public arena, what they do is religious and not political.

Organized religion has preached all manner of horseshit from the pulpit. That poor fellow in Afghanistan who is under a death threat for turning Christian is being hounded by people with religious convictions. In our own country the church has condemned women for seeking the right to vote, politicians who vote for abortion rights, black men who want to marry white women. Would you say that calling those ideas “ugly” was projection?

The Catholic church’s insistence that gay people are, as a class, inferior to non-gay people is a ferocious affront to human decency. In a perfect democracy, I think anti-Semites should be allowed to say in public that Jews are money-grubbing thieves, and white supremacists should be able to claim that Negroes are an inferior race without fear of violence to their person. And homophobes should be able to claim that any and all gay people lack the character to make good parents. But even in our imperfect world, I don’t see why an egalitarian democracy cannot and should not make laws preventing those people from acting out on their convictions. Even if they are convinced it is the will of God.

Yours truly,

Alan J. McCornick
Berkeley, CA
March 29, 2006

written in response to:

Adoption, kids, and the gay agenda

Mar 16, 2006
by Jeff Jacoby

In psychology, "projection" occurs when someone attributes to others his own unpleasant beliefs or motivations. It is projection, for instance, when a liar assumes that everyone he deals with is dishonest, or when a man tempted by adultery accuses his spouse of planning to deceive him. Projection occurs in the public arena as well, as when supporters of racial preferences label "racist" those who believe the law should be strictly colorblind.

A fresh example of projection arrived the other day by way of a news release from the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation's largest gay and lesbian political organizations.

On March 10, Catholic Charities of Boston had announced that it was being forced to shut down its highly regarded adoption services, since it could not in good conscience comply with the government's demand that it place children for adoption with homosexual couples. Caught between the rock of Catholic teaching, which regards such adoptions as "gravely immoral," and Massachusetts regulations, which bar adoption agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, the Boston Archdiocese had hoped to obtain a waiver on religious-freedom grounds. But when legislative leaders refused to consider the request, the archdiocese was left with no option but to end a ministry it had been performing for a century.

Whereupon the Human Rights Campaign issued its news release. It was headlined "Boston Catholic Charities Puts Ugly Political Agenda Before Child Welfare," and a more perfect illustration of psychological projection would be hard to imagine.

For the political agenda driving this affair is the one favored by the Human Rights ampaign and its many allies in the media and state government: the normalization of homosexual adoption. So important is that agenda to its supporters that they will allow nothing to stand in its way -- not even the well-being of children in dire need of safe and loving families. Catholic Charities excels at arranging adoptions for children in foster care, particularly those who are older or handicapped, or who bear the scars of abuse or addiction. Yet the Human Rights Campaign and its friends would rather see this invaluable work come to an end than allow Catholic Charities to decline gay adoptions.

Note well: Catholic Charities made no effort to block same-sex couples from adopting. It asked no one to endorse its belief that homosexual adoption is wrong. It wanted only to go on finding loving parents for troubled children, without having to place any of those children in homes it deemed unsuitable. Gay or lesbian couples seeking to adopt would have remained free to do so through any other agency. In at least one Massachusetts diocese, in fact, the standing Catholic Charities policy had been to refer same-sex couples to other adoption agencies.

The church's request for a conscience clause should have been unobjectionable, at least to anyone whose priority is rescuing kids from foster care. Those who spurned that request out of hand must believe that adoption is designed primarily for the benefit of adults, not children. The end of Catholic Charities' involvement in adoption may suit the Human Rights Campaign. But it can only hurt the interests of the damaged and vulnerable children for whom Catholic Charities has long been a source of hope.

Is this a sign of things to come? In the name of nondiscrimination, will more states force religious organizations to swallow their principles or go out of business? Same-sex adoption is becoming increasingly common, but it is still highly controversial. Millions of Americans would readily agree that gay and lesbian couples can make loving parents, yet insist nevertheless that kids are better off with loving parents of both sexes. That is neither a radical view nor an intolerant one, but if the kneecapping of Catholic Charities is any indication, it may soon be unsafe to express.

"As much as one may wish to live and let live," Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote in 2004, during the same-sex marriage debate in Massachusetts, "the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance, and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination.... Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don't go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles."

The ax fell on Catholic Charities just two years after those words were written. Where will it have fallen two years hence?

Jeff Jacoby is an Op-Ed writer for the Boston Globe, a radio political commentator, and a contributing columnist for

Copyright © 2006 Boston Globe

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