governor Mitt Romney and a top legislative leader in
Boston say a request by Massachusetts's four Roman Catholic
bishops to exempt Catholic social service agencies
from having to place adoptive children with gay
parents is unlikely to be granted. Romney told The Boston
Globe he was not authorized to give such an
exemption, while state representative Eugene O'Flaherty,
house chairman of the joint committee on the
judiciary, said there would be little support among
lawmakers to offer an exemption from the state's
The archbishop of Boston and the bishops of Fall
River, Worcester, and Springfield are planning to hire
a Boston law firm to explore legal and political
strategies for opting out of adoptions by gay people, which
the Vatican has called "gravely immoral."
Catholic Charities, the social service arm of
the Boston archdiocese, has in the past two decades
allowed a small percentage of the total number of
children it has placed to be adopted into homes with gay
parents, in compliance with state antidiscrimination
laws. Of the 720 adoptions the group has completed in
the past 20 years, only 13 have gone to gay couples.
Those adopted were all foster children who were considered
hard to place because they had special needs or were older.
The bishops' plan appears to be at odds with the
42-member board of Catholic Charities, which voted
unanimously in December to continue the practice of
allowing gays to adopt.
Romney, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said
that he asked his legal counsel to research whether he
has the authority to exempt an organization from the
antidiscrimination law. "My understanding is that any
exemption would require legislation and would not be
something I would be authorized to do on a personal
basis," Romney said, while not discussing his own
views on the practice.
O'Flaherty said that while he respects the
church's position on the matter, he would oppose
granting such an exemption to any social agency that
contracted with the state. "This is a very divisive issue
that I don't see making it onto the agenda for
debate," he said. "We have enough on our plate already."
Representatives of the archdiocese and Catholic
Charities said on Thursday that funds to pay for the
legal strategy were coming from Catholic Charities'
budget, which surprised some board members. "I'm
shocked," board member Donna DePresco said. "I find it hard
to believe." The board members serve three-year terms
at the pleasure of Archbishop Sean O'Malley.
The bishops may also consider going to court to
fight the antidiscrimination laws on First Amendment
grounds protecting religious freedom. (AP)
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