GOP Pushing Another Right to Discriminate Bill

GOP Pushing Another Right to Discriminate Bill August 14, 2014

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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