Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Discriminating Against Discrimination: the Catholic Charities Debacle

Jeff Jacoby’s op-ed piece in this morning’s Boston Globe turns logic on its head and is a must-read for those of us who value fairness and equal protection under the law as tenets of a civilized and modern society.

The subject at question is gay adoption, and Massachusetts Catholic Charities’ decision in recent weeks to abandon its adoption program rather than conform to state anti-discrimination laws protecting the adoption rights of gay couples and individuals.

Now, it is important to remember that gay marriage is legal in the state of Massachusetts and that this policy reversal has its origins far away in the Vatican. Catholic Charities is between a rock and a hard place, trying to appease a new, conservative Pope and the upper echelons of his Church while also seeking to find loving and stable homes for children in need back home. It is an unenviable position, to say the least, and there are many adoption advocates, social workers, families, and of course adoptable children who are grieving today because of these recent events.

Clearly no one is a winner here and it is difficult to find a “bad guy” upon whom to pin the blame. One certainly cannot blame the Catholic Church for demanding that its social service agencies adhere to their faith's own moral standards.

But Jeff Jacoby differs with me on this. He casts an unwillingness by the state to allow a particular adoption agency, in this case Catholic Charities, to violate anti-discrimination law as itself an act of discrimination. He attributes the commitment by the State of Massachusetts to stand on civil principles and the rule of law - equivalent in my view to the Church’s commitment on their side of the debate – to an act of psychological illness, the defensive symptom known as “projection.”

I would counter that Mr. Jacoby is himself engaging in an act of “projective identification,” wherein the deficits of character he imagines he sees in the Other are in fact his own, projected BY HIM, and then loudly proclaimed to the world as evidence of that Other’s psychological ill health or worse, moral failing. His “Other,” as usual, is a left-wing cause: the insidious “gay agenda” he believes is at work here.

The reversal of common sense is obvious. If Catholic Charities can refuse legal, appropriate, willing and properly-vetted individuals their right to adopt based on prejudice against gays, can they then refuse to allow, say, children born to Catholic mothers to be adopted by Jews or Muslims - or atheists, for that matter, based on similar religious grounds?

No. Better for them to avoid this slippery moral slope and get out of the adoption game entirely if they cannot follow the rule of law and their own moral sense at the same time. This they have done, with sadness, deep grieving, and enormous inner turmoil.

The matter here is simple and does not involve the psychological defense of projection, as Mr. Jacoby, who is neither a trained psychiatric professional nor a writer specializing in matters of psychology, suggests. Simply put, if you wish to use public funds to arrange adoptions, you may not discriminate against gays, who have the right to marry, start families, and yes, adopt children.

It is rare today, as the GTL sees it, to find a moral dilemma in which both sides are sincere and motivated by deeply felt beliefs and concerns for others and society. While it is a sad day indeed for adoption in Massachusetts, the only party behaving poorly is Mr. Jacoby.

1 comment:

worldcitizen said...

Clearly no one is a winner here and it is difficult to find a “bad guy” upon whom to pin the blame. One certainly cannot blame the Catholic Church for demanding that its social service agencies adhere to their faith's own moral standards.

Sure you can when their "moral standards" are a bunch of drivel contradicted by the evidence. And when this so-called oppressed church is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get legislation passed to take away the CIVIL rights and freedoms of the people they hate.