GOP Pushing Another Right to Discriminate Bill

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have submitted a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to facilitate any adoption that “conflicts with…the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” They don’t really mean that, of course, they just think it should apply to gay people. The bill provides:

“[The government] shall not discriminate or take an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

This is a bad idea for many reasons. First, because it privileges religious beliefs over non-religious ones. But more importantly, because it enshrines discrimination. The sponsor of the bill says:

Faith-based providers and individuals helping children should not be prevented from providing welfare services because of their religious faith, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. The lawmakers say some people in positions of power are essentially discriminating against people of faith and seeking to force providers out of these services because of the providers’ beliefs…

“This bill is about fairness and inclusion. It is about ensuring that everyone who wants to help provide foster or adoptive care to children is able to have a seat at the table,” said Kelly. “Faith-based organizations have historically played a downright heroic role in caring for our nation’s most vulnerable and needy kids. In so many ways their work is unparalleled. There is no good reason why any of these care providers should be disqualified from working with their government to serve America’s families simply because of their deeply-rooted religious beliefs.”

No, this bill is not about fairness and inclusion. This bill is about preventing fairness and inclusion. Fairness and inclusion would require that agencies that are contracted to perform a government service not discriminate against anyone for irrelevant reasons. That their desire to discriminate is based on their religious views is completely irrelevant.

And the fact is, they don’t really mean any of this. They have to word the legislation broadly in terms of “deeply held religious beliefs,” but the moment those beliefs were used to justify a form of discrimination they don’t like, they would be the first ones screaming their outrage from the rooftops. Imagine if a Muslim adoption agency decided that their “deeply held religious beliefs” forbid them from facilitating an adoption to Jewish or Christian parents, or that an agency decided they would not facilitate adoptions to interracial couples. It would take about a millisecond for all these cries of “religious freedom” to turn into furious condemnation.

As always, all this talk of religious freedom is just a pretext. They don’t really want religious freedom in general, they want the freedom to continue to treat gay people as second class citizens. That’s all this is.

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  • D. C. Sessions

    Bringing back Jim Crow, one step at a time.

  • abb3w

    So, the KKK can get back into the adoption business?

  • D. C. Sessions

    And Ed, I wouldn’t be so sure about the “interracial couples” thing.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I don’t think the government should be in the business of deciding which religious beliefs are “sincerely held.”

  • scienceavenger

    As always, all this talk of religious freedom is just a pretext.

    And once again its a bullshit pretext on its own terms, because there is nothing in the tenets (that’s “tenets” Sarah) of Christianity that says “thou shalt not allow gay couples to adopt”. Claiming otherwise is every bit as capricious as me claiming I have a religion that forbids me to allow children to be adopted out to ignorant rednecks. These laws have the effect of allowing Christians to refuse to deal with anyone they want any time they want as long as they scream “religion” when they do it.

  • Chiroptera

    They don’t really mean that, of course, they just think it should apply to gay people.

    Well, didn’t the Supreme Court say pretty much that in the Hobby Lobby case? I admit I only skimmed the decision very quickly so I may be off base, but my impression was that they pretty much said, “Of course we don’t really mean any sincerely held religious belief, only the ones that involve women’s reproductive health care.”

  • Alverant

    Ahh but it’s not pushing religion if it is phrase, “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”. /s

    Seriously though, has anyone ever invoked a law with that phrase based on a non-religious “moral conviction”? It sounds suspiciously like “I don’t wanna!”. I had a person actually claim that making someone do something against their religious beliefs was persecution as if someone’s conscience was more important than the rights and health of others.

  • cptdoom

    The only proof you need that this is about anti-LGBT discrimination is that they’ve only come up with this law now. For 50 years, federal, and most state, laws have required all public accommodations to treat heretics, blasphemers, adulterers and fornicators (as defined variously by the different sects out there) as equal human beings, and there has been no general outcry. The only protests began when laws started requiring public accommodations to treat LGBT citizens has equal human beings.

    That being said, probably the quickest and most effective way to attack this proposed legislation is to call it what it is – a return to “restricted” businesses. Most people who have no problem discriminating against LGBT people would still balk at discriminating against Jews, especially with the constant use of “Judeo-Christian” to describe their warped belief systems.

  • Phillip IV

    “The Attorney General is trampling on my religious freedoms with his investigation of my adoption service! Those healthy babys are a steal at $ 800 a pop, and the only reason I have no paperwork about their origin is that my religion strictly requires burning all of my files at the end of every business day!”

  • marcus

    This kind of action is what they would love to be able to extend into the public square. (To be fair many Christian organizations are condemning this heartless act also.)

  • raven

    There are some very questionable companies in the adoption industry.

    1. Some of the worst are xians. They adopt children out and then shuffle them from one family to another without a paper trail. No one knows what happens to them. They might end up trafficked, i.e. sold as sex slaves. Very biblical, this is permitted in Exodus.

    The FBI rescued 168 child prostitutes recently in an operation. Some of them had never been reported as missing.

    2. One of the most notorious is LDS Family Services, the Mormons. Utah has very lax adoption laws to let them do whatever they want. They are so notorious that recently they got out of the business.

  • raven


    Advocates for adopted children decry ‘private re-homing …

    www . latimes. com/…/…

    Jul 8, 2014 – Unregulated ‘private re-homing’ of adopted children puts them at risk of abuse … never met and who, in some cases, have a history of child abuse and neglect.” … problems, and received little support from adoption agencies.

    Shuffling children around until they “get lost” is called private re-homing. It happens a lot and can be dangerous for the kid.

  • bachalon

    Why does it seem that the same christian conservatives that are often screaming about this being a “nation of laws” are always the first to ask for exemptions from those same laws?

  • It’s not Religious Liberty if I can’t play by my own rules and still get taxpayer funding.

  • cry4turtles

    Guess I have to write to asshole Kelly again.

  • john cryan

    “Faith-based providers and individuals helping children should not be prevented from providing welfare services because of their religious faith”

    And they are not: they are free to provide welfare services to their hearts content but have volunarily choosen not to do so because it would require they accept clients without regard for sexual orientation, etc. It’s not anti-discrimination laws that are the obstacle to their being able to ‘help children’: it’s their willing embrace of discriminatory articles of religious faith.

  • lanir

    I don’t know how things have changed since but several decades ago I was adopted as a one month old baby in a blind adoption where my adoptive parents were only told rumors about my birth parents. They went through Catholic Charities. My understanding based on trying to track down information many years later is that my birth mother was actually dealing with a completely different organization and there may have been several layers involved between my entry point in the system with her to my exit from the system with my adoptive parents.

    If the bill allows middlemen to grind their axes as well as entry and exit points, it makes me think this would have a much broader impact than they let on.

  • vmanis1

    Maybe the bill’s sponsors can get an endorsement from the Aryan Nations (Church of Jesus Christ-Christian). I’m sure they have lots of sincere moral objections.

  • God Emperor Lionel Lauer

    “They don’t really mean that, of course, they just think it should apply to gay people.”

    Probably also to atheists, or other non-Christians.