For the LGBTQ+ community and allies across the world, the month of June is Pride Month. June became a month of celebration when individuals in the LGBTQ+ community could safely express their identities and feel proud to live their truth.
Typically, parades of people passionately displaying their love and lifestyles that break century-old norms crowd streets of cities across America in June. Rainbows bedeck bodies, clothing and flagpoles. Stores send out aisles of pride-labeled products, and beyond the visible displays of pride, LGBTQ+ individuals get a month where they can feel supported and welcomed in their identity.
June 1 saw social media posts of pride interspersed with messages of civil rights and equality. However, as the first week of Pride Month progressed, the LGBTQ+ community was given yet another reason to feel inferior rather than empowered.
The Trump administration submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on June 3, arguing that Catholic Social Services (CSS), a taxpayer-funded organization that provides adoption and fostering services, should be able to refuse to work with same-sex couples, due to religious beliefs that deem same-sex couples as “unmarried” and in violation of their belief that marriage is only valid when it is between a man and a woman.
The United States Department of Justice filed the brief in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which will be addressed by the Supreme Court in October when the next term begins. The brief states that “Philadelphia has impermissibly discriminated against religious exercise,” and that the state's actions “reflect unconstitutional hostility" toward the beliefs of CSS.
June is supposed to be special for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, it seems like June is just a cruel smack in the face and a reminder that equality is not guaranteed just because same-sex marriage was legalized almost five years ago.
As a stark supporter of the First Amendment, I am inclined to defend the religious rights of Americans and their organizations. However, in this situation, the battle in my brain is not simply founded in legality and constitutional substance. For me, this goes beyond a Catholic organization’s right to exercise religion. To me, this is about the children and the LGBTQ+ couples who want nothing more than to welcome a child into their home and build a family.
When parents are asked what the best moment of their lives is, many answer that the moment they brought a child into their family was an insurmountable high point. To think that same-sex couples across the country have one more obstacle in their way to adopting or fostering children breaks my heart. Why should they be denied the wonder of parenthood simply because an organization frowns upon their marriage.
Frankly, they shouldn't be. I can hear some of you screaming at me now.
“Ryan, those couples have other options! They don’t need to go through a religious organization to adopt or foster children.”
I’d tell you you’re right. But why shouldn’t they be able to. The bible repeatedly speaks about children and parenthood. It is clear throughout the verses that God values parenthood and children to the highest degree.
One day, when I’m at the point in my life to start a family, I don’t want my ability to have children to be based on the gender of my partner. When I adopt kids, I’d hope a religious organization I choose to help me is eager to find a child a home, regardless of whether my partner is a Mr. or a Mrs.
If a couple is qualified to make their home a place where a child can thrive and be nurtured, then it shouldn’t matter if it’s a couple of women, a couple of men or a man and a woman. What matters is that a child gets to grow up in a loving family.
In 2017, there were 443,000 children in foster care across the United States, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report. 50,000 children are adopted through the child welfare system every year, but nearly 20,000 others “age out” of the system before finding a family, the report states.
I find it difficult to believe that followers of Jesus Christ wouldn’t want all 443,000 foster children to find a family. So, why fight against the thousands of same-sex couples who are more than willing to bring those children into their families.
Studies show that LGBTQ+ couples and families adopt and foster children at a higher rate than heterosexual families. According to a 2018 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, more than 21% of same-sex couples adopt and raise children, with only 3% of heterosexual couples who adopt.
Without same-sex couples being able to freely adopt and foster children, the number of children who haven’t found a permanent home and family would skyrocket.
There is a middle ground in the battle of adoption rights waged between religion and same-sex couples: how much children are wanted and loved. In October, I hope religious rights remain protected under the Constitution. However, I hope the religious organizations denying same-sex couples the ability to adopt children find it in their hearts to look beneath the labels of marriage and focus on the common goal of finding children a family where they can live and be loved.