Rep. Paul Ryan Endorses LGBT Adoption, While Newt Gingrich Digs In Against Equality

May 9, 2013
Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

As marriage equality becomes law in state after state, related legal matters like adoption rights for LGBT individuals and same-gender couples are gaining public attention. Catholic public figures are reviewing long-standing positions by the hierarchy anew, with Republican Congressman Paul Ryan  endorsing equal adoption rights and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking strongly against what he perceives as anti-Christian laws.

Rep. Ryan, a Catholic, spoke at a town hall in Wisconsin last week where an attendee questioned him about a poor rating with the Human Rights Campaign, specifically a 1999 vote against allowing same-gender couples in the District of Columbia to adopt. David Gibson reports on the comments at Religion News Service, quoting Rep. Ryan as saying:

“Adoption, I’d vote differently these days. That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period.”

The Wisconsin congressman’s record on LGBT rights is abysmal otherwise, having voted against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Protection Act and vocally opposing marriage equality. Gibson points out that in another shift, Rep. Ryan also claimed:

“…he has “always supported” civil unions. Though there is no evidence to support that, it’s a clear sign that the politics of the issue have changed and that even the most conservative Republicans need to appear more hospitable to gays and lesbians in order to expand their voting bloc.”

You can view the town hall remarks in the YouTube video below:

Last weekend, on the television program Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich, a Catholic, reinforced his opposition to LGBT rights, including adoption by same-gender couples. Gingrich expressed an increasingly common talking point by anti-gay groups who claim that LGBT rights lead to the persecution of Christianity. The Huffington Post quotes the failed presidential hopeful:

Newt Gingrich

“‘But what I’m struck with is the one-sidedness of the desire for rights…There are no rights for Catholics to have adoption services in Massachusetts; they’re outlawed. There are no rights in D.C. for Catholics to have adoption services; they’re outlawed.

“‘Does [supporting LGBT rights] mean that you actually have to affirmatively eliminate any institution which does not automatically accept [homosexuality]?'”

However, another panelist on Meet the Press challenged Gingrich’s claims about Catholic Charities in Massachusetts and D.C. being forced to end their adoption services. The Huffington Post reports:

“Panelist Joy Reid, managing editor for The Grio, countered Gingrich’s argument, saying that Catholic Charities decided on its own to discontinue adoption services, rather than comply with the state’s nondiscrimination laws and provide adoptions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.”

Pew Forum polling last year showed 55% of Catholics supported LGBT adoption rights, and it is increasingly clear to politicians this number is climbing. Recent controversies with Catholic Charities and relations to government in Palo Alto, California and Denver reiterate that the legal struggles will continue for the foreseeable future. As for the implications on Church politics, David Gibson writes:

“…Ryan, who has touted his Catholic faith as evidence of his social as well as economic conservatism…[has a] significant break with the Catholic hierarchy, which has even shut down adoption services rather than placing children with same-sex couples.

“This could spell more trouble for the Catholic bishops in their battle on gay rights; they have already been losing their own faithful, and losing political allies like Ryan is tough.

“Then again, many would say Ryan’s economic policies were hardly in line with the bishops and Catholic teaching, so there.”

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Denver Catholic Charities Will Not Let Same-Gender Couples Adopt

January 29, 2013

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of DenverIf a civil unions bill becomes law this year in Colorado (and it looks likely that it will), the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic Charities has said that it will not place children available for adoption in families headed by same-sex couples.  9News.com reports the statements of two Catholic officials on the matter:

” ‘Our desire is to provide them [children] with a safe and stable environment,’ Tracy Murphy with Catholic Charities of Denver said.

“The debate begins when you examine what the Catholic church means by that.

” ‘The Catholic church understands the best foundation for a child’s life is to be in the home of a father and a mother that is going to raise them in a family environment that is a strong, healthy marriage,’ said Monsignor Tom Fryar, who serves as pastor for the Denver Cathedral.

“By dictionary definition, the church does discriminate when it comes to adoptions– not just against gays but also against single people.

“They only let married couples adopt. Even if the laws change, the church won’t.

” ‘We cannot,’ Fryar said. ‘It goes against our faith.’ “

Catholics who oppose the civil unions law are trying to get a “conscience clause,  which is explained by 9News.com’s  report:

“Last year’s bill contained the words: ‘This article shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption with a couple that has entered into a civil union.’

“Supporters of civil unions begrudgingly included the clause last year, hoping it would help get the bill through the GOP-controlled House. Now that Democrats are in control, they are less inclined to accommodate religious organizations who opposed civil unions when the bill did have the clause.”

Putting the politics aside, it is amazing that Msgr. Fryar would say that adoption policy “goes against our faith.”  This is not a faith issue. Our faith does not say anything about what an ideal family would be for a particular child.  One need only look at Scripture, Catholic history, and the lives of the saints to know that there are many models of families and forms of childcare other than relying on a heterosexual standard.  Furthermore, the children and the parents involved may not necessarily be Catholic.

A Colorado lawmaker commented on the adoption controversy by making reference to segregation laws:

” ‘It sounds like, “we have our water fountains, and there are other water fountains for you,” ‘ Sen. Jessie Ulibarri (D-Commerce City) said.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


QUOTE TO NOTE: ‘Nobody Should Judge’

June 4, 2012

In a follow-up to President Barack Obama’s historic announcement in support of marriage equality, an Associated Press reporter, Jeri Clausing, wrote the article “Shift on marriage energizes immigration activists,” to show how this development would impact on Hispanic support for Obama in the November election.  One response worth quoting came from said Sister “Molly” Maria Luisa Munoz, a Denver Catholic nun in Denver who works with immigrants and the gay/lesbian people:

“No, no, no, no, no. It’s not going to affect my vote. My mother straightened us out right away. God made everybody. How we came out? That’s God’s creation. Nobody should judge.”

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Postcards from the Edge

January 12, 2012

To oppose their state’s proposed civil unions legislation, the Colorado Catholic Conference is sponsoring a postcard campaign. The project, which is supported by the Knights of Columbus, asks Catholic lay people to send postcards to state legislators that contain the message:  “Protect traditional marriage. Vote ‘no’ on civil union legislation.”

Yesterday, Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese, released a long statement in opposition to the  legislation in Colorado.  While there is nothing new in the way he argues against the legislation, a curious paragraph appears towards the end of the statement:

“We do not know the long-term consequences of creating a parallel for marriage, distinct from its ancient and natural meaning.  But we do know they will be severe.  It’s already clear that some view civil unions as a stepping-stone to endorsing polygamous relationships.  Furthermore, civil unions allow for adoption of children by same-sex couples, and infringe on religious liberties for many groups.  There will likely be further consequences.  Redefining marriage means that government will try to redefine truth.”

The first two sentences violate simple and clear logic.  How can a person simultaneously not know something yet know that the “something” will be severe?  If the consequences are unknowable, as stated in the first sentence, that implies the possibility that they might be minor or non-existent.

The third sentence also would  not pass muster in a basic college composition course.  Who are the “some” who see civil unions leading to polygamy?  And why do they think that way?  What is their evidence?   In fact, what is happening in that sentence is known as a “slippery slope” fallacy, claiming, with no real evidence that adopting one idea will lead to other less favorable ideas.

The claim in the next sentence that civil unions will infringe on religious liberties is similarly unfounded.  The religious liberty argument is a red herring designed, like the slippery slope strategy, to instill fear.

The final two sentences are so vague as to be meaningless.  What, specifically, will the “further consequences” be?  How can a government redefine truth?  And hasn’t marriage constantly been redefined every time a law about the institution has been changed?

What is the bishop trying to say and why doesn’t he say it plainly and clearly?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


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