The Michigan Legislature is considering a bill which would allow adoption agencies to refuse to adopt out children to people whose beliefs violate the creed of the adopting agency. Supporters say this is a reflection of protecting religious liberty. Opponents say it would institutionalize discrimination.
Of course it would institutionalize discrimination. But every law does that, doesn't it? The laws which make us drive on the right side of the road discriminate against those who would prefer to drive on the left. Yet that is surely a minor point on large issues such as this. The bigger point is that of religious freedom versus secular values; must religious institutions or persons and companies which have decidedly and sincere religious convictions operate under what the secular world considers right, or under what their creed tells them is right?
At one time the answer would have been obvious: of course they do. We no longer believe that to be the case. The secular world is steadily encroaching on private rights. Freedom of religion is the least protected, and seen as the least important, of the five freedoms within the First Amendment. That's if it is seen as important at all; it's very easy to believe that that is the exact view of the opponents of measures such as these.
But this isn't about religion, opponents might say. "The state of Michigan with regard to child placement has a duty to focus on, first and foremost, what is in the best interest of the child," said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan's LGBT Project. Well, the seriously religious believe that the best interests of the child preclude being raised in a gay household. Never mind for the moment whether you think they are right to believe that. Consider instead whether anyone can be truly free in their religion if they cannot practice it, up to and including not placing children into situations which they judge would not be in the child's best interests.
Or does the ACLU and their libertarian and liberal allies think that a child can be raised just any which way and become a good person? Clearly not, or it would not be speaking essentially in favor of gay adoption. They see that option as okay. Whether they see placing a child in a religious household as at least equally as good is murky, to say the least.
As you cannot truly be free unless you can can practice that freedom through where you live, what you do, and how you use your property and so forth (providing, of course, that you do all of these things within a reasonable moral framework), you cannot be be free in your religious practice unless you can practice it completely (and yes, within a reasonable moral framework). That means practicing it freely and completely through whatever agency: your personal life or you business life. If this right is not respected, then neither is your freedom of religion. At that point, quite frankly, it hardly matters where adoptive children are placed. A more important right will have been violated.