Opinion Columns & Blogs

Adoption reform and compromise

Should faith-based adoption agencies be able to help the state place kids in foster care into loving homes? There are two public policy sides to this. Neither is wrong, per se, but one will reduce the number of agencies available to help the state.

On the one side are those who say no. Faith-based adoption agencies preclude adoption into same-sex households and many also preclude adoption into single parent households. In fact, Republican legislators in Atlanta are taking this position. The state Senate is currently considering H.B. 159, an update to adoption laws in the state. The Senate Judiciary Committee just removed protections for faith-based groups.

As it now stands, should this law pass, faith-based adoption agencies in the state will be precluded from helping the state place children in loving homes unless these faith-based groups abandon their deeply held religious beliefs on the sanctity of marriage. The governor and speaker of the house pushed for this change because Hollywood film studios and Amazon are opposed.

Georgia’s Republicans stand in sharp contrast to the Republican leaders of Texas. They also updated their adoption laws, but they made sure to protect faith-based groups. They took the other public policy position on this.

Because the First Amendment states that individuals should be allowed to freely exercise their religion, not just their worship, it seems the state should not make people abandon their religious views in order to participate in the state. Gay rights advocates argue that the state has a compelling interest in advancing equality and therefore must stamp out discrimination. That sounds good superficially, but what is actually happening is the state winds up discriminating against religious people who have a constitutional right to freely exercise their religion.

The reality is that every person discriminates. I know people who refuse to eat at Chick-fil-A because of the religious views of its owners. I know people who refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because of the company’s hostility to unions. Every single person discriminates in some way, shape, or form. The one entity that is not supposed to discriminate is the state. But Republican leaders in the state are now willing to openly discriminate against faith-based groups by denying them the ability to place children in foster care into loving homes.

In fact, a same-sex couple cannot currently use a Catholic adoption agency in Georgia. Whether that agency helps place children in homes neither increases nor decreases the number of agencies that same-sex couple can use. But when the state prohibits the Catholic adoption agency from helping place children in homes, it does decrease the number of agencies able to help children.

The problem in this debate is not that one side looks at the other and sees nasty bigots. Those “bigots” are just supporting several thousand years of Christian orthodoxy that liberals in society have decided must now be stamped out in the name of equality. It is unfortunate that Republican leaders in the state, fearful of losing out on Amazon’s second headquarters, would side with those who detest Christian orthodoxy.

The state legislature is hijacking children’s fates for the culture war. The state Senate should restore the protections afforded faith-based adoption agencies so that every available agency is able to help place wards of the state into loving homes. I hope Sens. John Kennedy, David Lucas, Larry Walker, and the rest of our local delegation will support faith-based adoption agencies being allowed to keep their religious views and still help get foster kids into loving families.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.