My obligatory post about Catholic Charities and adoption

So, as I'm sure everyone's read, Catholic Charities is backing out of providing adoption services, since the state laws require them to serve same-sex couples wishing to adopt.

And of course, the whackjob governor wants to seek an exemption so that religious organizations providing social services can be free to discriminate.

Um, folks? You do realize, don't you, that this is all a moot point? Adoption services are overseen by social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, physicians and others who are professionals licensed by the state. State laws, as well as other codes of ethics and standards of practice put forth by national organizations, prohibit professionals who are licensed or pending licensure from practicing unethically. This includes being discriminatory. These codes all contain language stating that a clinician will not practice in an unethical manner, even if a supervisor or employer has a policy requiring it. Clinicians are required to alert the employer to the unethical practices and refuse to carry them out.

In short, if Romney does find a way to enact this asinine exemption law, no clinicians who are licensed or pending licensure will be able to work for an agency that does choose to discriminate against a group of people. Other state laws pertaining to child welfare would prohibit an adoption agency from placing children with adoptive families without having the children and families assessed and supported by a trained clinician.

There just isn't any way to legally discriminate against same-sex families unless Mitt has some sort of magic wand that can change the standards of practice of medicine, social work, psychology and counseling. Even if he tried to enact a law like Florida's, this is a state with really strong professional organizations and training programs in the clinical fields, and we'd easily convince the legislature such a thing wouldn't fly in this state.


NBA Commentary said...

I think this is a little short-sighted. While I don't think Mitt's proposal will pass (I think it's just another lame duck measure designed to tout his conservative credentials) I think the danger of granting religious groups an exemption to discriminate, even in areas where licensed professionals are overseeing the process, is that it puts employees in conflict between keeping their jobs and behaving ethically. If they file ethical violations against employees or their employer for discriminatory policy decisions, they risk losing their job. As shitty as it is, most people will go for self-preservation first.

(This is Eve, BTW)

eeka said...

Yeah, I knew it was you!

You're totally right that most people will go for keeping the job first and foremost -- we do risk months of being jobless before the AG finds that we were fired out of retaliation and we get back pay and all that. (I had this happen to me -- ask me about it some time.)

I'm thinking though that if they restructure or make a major policy change, this makes all their employees eligible for unemployment if they choose not to stay on, and hopefully no ethical person would take the jobs that are left open.

But no agency that is doing anything related to licensed public service should be operating under religious principles in a way that overrides ethical ways of proving public service. This is the whole POINT of the first amendment. Go get appropriate ethical medical care at a hospital, then go get Jesus at a church. We don't need religious hospitals or agencies that are providing services that goes way outside the bounds of religion.

I've worked for two Jewish agencies and two Catholic agencies, and each had it explicitly in their mission statements that they existed in part to provide services that were compatible with the beliefs of the religion, and staff were required to have sufficient knowledge of the religions to provide clients with culturally appropriate services if they wished, but the agencies absolutely didn't operate under any sort of religious doctrine or inflict religious beliefs on employees or clients who didn't hold them. It's a great thing for an agency to have cultural/historical ties to a religious or cultural group, but this has to be done in a way that the place is first and foremost a full provider of services. If the place can't provide ethical social services because of religious constraits, they shouldn't provide any at all. You don't see GLBT-focused agencies turning away straight people or insisting that people receiving services be straight while on the premises.

Josh said...

Don't forget, too, that the SJC already considered a state law that excluded only gay people from enjoying a particular state service and said, pretty unequivocally, that such a law was a violation of the state constitution. So on top of being an awful, bigoted idea that won't fly in the legislature or among social services workers, Mitt's proposal would probably get shot down in court. (Not like anyone really thinks he's doing it for Massachusetts's benefit anyway, but still.)