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People Are People Are People

by Lorri Antosz Benson

Initially written for June 2020

Just when you thought we might have enough controversy and civil rights upheaval on our hands with Covid19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, allow me to say it’s not yet time to put your chaos fatigue pants on yet. Another important issue has just hit the Supreme Court. And the Trump administration has drawn another line in the sand.

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia began in 2018 after Philadelphia ended its contract which allowed Catholic Social Services to place children with foster parents. They had learned that the faith-based organization would not consider same-sex couples. The agency sued on the basis that by providing these services to gay couples, they would be violating their constitutional right to free religious exercise and free speech.

Catholic Social Services lost the first two rounds before appealing to the Supreme Court in February. Last week, the Department of Justice filed a brief, arguing in favor of the faith-based agency, saying a taxpayer-funded organization should be able to choose not to work with those seen to be in violation of its religious beliefs.

So that’s the background. Before I get started, just a mention that it seems a federally-funded organization should probably not discriminate based on anything. But back to why I find this so interesting. I am a born and raised, church-on-Sunday-and-Holy Days Catholic. I say grace before meals and partake in Lenten sacrifices. While I have my issues with some of the tenets of my church, I wholeheartedly support religious freedom, and I believe that, by and large, strong family values based on faith are a good thing. Normally, I’d have a hard time arguing against free speech and religious expression. But in this case, it’s just wrong.

Why? Because people are people are people. There are gay couples who would make good parents, and gay couples who would not. There are straight couples who are terrific parents and straight couples who are child abusers. There are good and bad black, indigenous and people of color. There are amazing cops and bigoted brutal cops. People are people are people.

And some of those people are little children who need parents. Many of them, of all ages and abilities. The foster system is overwhelmed by the sheer number of children, desperate to belong, desperate to have a family. And if that family has two moms, or two dads, that doesn’t have any bearing on whether they can provide a loving, nurturing environment for a child. What matters is that they are good parents.

To that point, gay couples tend to make excellent parents, not to stereotype. They’ve generally gone to a lot of trouble to become moms or dads, and they are dedicated to the concept. A study from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute showed that over 21 percent of gay couples are raising adopted children, compared with 3 percent of straight couples. Almost 3 percent of gay couples have foster children, where only 0.4 percent of straight couples do. Several studies show that LGBTQ couples are more likely to take in older, minority, and special needs children.

My book, Adopting Hope, has a chapter contributor named Brad, who is a married gay man with an adopted daughter, now college-aged. He tells his beautiful story of how he and his husband came to an adoption decision that felt like destiny, which resulted in the most meaningful and significant moments of their lives. Their daughter is a gorgeous, talented ray of sunshine who fiercely adores both her dads.

I found one part of their story most revealing. Their birthmother told them she had requested ONLY gay prospective parents. Brad found that impossible to understand and asked why. She said she had worked at an adoption agency, and when a difficult to place child was available, they always went through their roster of straight parents first, and invariably, they would pass on the child. Then they would get to the gay couples, and they not only would immediately accept the child, they would always check back with the agency, glowing with joy and enthusiasm. She decided that was what she wanted for her child.

Why would we take that option off the table? I propose we stop judging people, and do what’s best for our children. After all, love is love. And people are people. And I’m pretty sure Pope Francis agrees with that.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in October.


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