Taxpayer Funding, Adoption and the Kids

The Washington Blade reports:

In Texas, transgender rights supporters thwarted an attempt by state leaders to enact legislation that would have barred transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity. However, Texas—along with Alabama and South Dakota—enacted laws allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placements in homes based on religious objections, which could result in discrimination against LGBT families.

State transgender bathroom bans are an overreach of state power, imposing state authority into an area where no discernable problem seems to exists. Libertarian-minded people should oppose that sort of intrusion.

The second issue isn’t so clear cut, however. State funding of religiously affiliated social service organizations is now pervasive, placing private religious agencies in a bind. Despite the left’s spin, allowing religious agencies to operate according to their faith principles, even if they receive some state funding, is an arguable point. As Scott Shackford wrote at Reason two years ago (quoting Walter Olson, an IGF cofounder):

Much as with the controversies over bakers and florists, being denied service by one agency does not actually impact a gay couple’s ability to find and adopt children at all. But eliminating Catholic Charities from the pool reduces the number of people able to help place these children. It’s the children who are punished by the politicization of adoption, not Catholic Charities.

This is especially important when dealing with older children or children with special medical needs. … Allowing both sides (and others as well) to play their role as they see fit benefits all children in the system.

As for the concern that some adoption agencies take taxpayer money and then discriminate, Olson points out that it’s much more expensive to the taxpayers to leave children to be raised by the state, not to mention terribly cruel. “If you don’t care about the kids or the families, at least care about the taxpayers,” Olson says. But you should probably care about the kids, too.

The Blade reports that the two Texas legislative developments were a “mixed bag.” Others who are more liberty focused might see it as a wini-win.

3 Comments for “Taxpayer Funding, Adoption and the Kids”

  1. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    Much as with the controversies over bakers and florists, being denied service by one agency does not actually impact a gay couple’s ability to find and adopt children at all. But eliminating Catholic Charities from the pool reduces the number of people able to help place these children. It’s the children who are punished by the politicization of adoption, not Catholic Charities.

    This is especially important when dealing with older children or children with special medical needs. … Allowing both sides (and others as well) to play their role as they see fit benefits all children in the system.

    As for the concern that some adoption agencies take taxpayer money and then discriminate, Olson points out that it’s much more expensive to the taxpayers to leave children to be raised by the state, not to mention terribly cruel. “If you don’t care about the kids or the families, at least care about the taxpayers,” Olson says. But you should probably care about the kids, too.

    The Olson/Shackford scarcity of services argument is nonsense because it ignores market forces, dependent entirely on government restriction of services to create the scarcity.

    In an efficient market, undistorted by government policy favoring religious providers, other adoption services providers will enter the market or expand services to fill the gap if Catholic Charities pulls itself out of the adoption services market.

    This is what happened in Illinois and Massachusetts, two states in which Catholic Charities pulled out of the adoption services market without the catastrophic consequences predicted by Olson/Shackford. Although there was some market disruption during the first few months following the Catholic Charities pullout, the other adoption services providers filled the gap, the number of adoptions did not decrease, and the number of children “left to be raised by the state” did not increase.

    The scarcity argument has validity in one and only one economic scenario: A regulated adoption services market in which the government uses market regulation to reduce/control supply and permits religion-based discrimination by adoption services providers. In the case of the Olson/Shackford “wini-win”, scarcity is created by a regulated market in which major suppliers are permitted to reduce access to the adoption services market by gays and lesbians and other religious pariahs.

    Perhaps a government-regulated market creating artificial scarcity to benefit religious providers is the goal of pseudo-libertarian Republicans like Olson/Shackford, but it is not consistent with the principles set forth in the Libertarian Party’s platform or the goal of “more liberty focused” political thinkers of any political persuasion. In my opinion, the “wini-win” is a sop to conservative Christians and nothing more, nothing less.

    But you should probably care about the kids, too.

    This little gem of a sentence deserves a special call-out. How, exactly, are children harmed if the adoption services market is open to adoption by gay and lesbian parents? Hint: If you are looking for an “answer”, follow the arguments being put forward by the Catholic Church in Australia right now. The same old same old lies and nonsense about child-abusing gay and lesbian parents is being dragged out from under the rock and deployed.

    Reply
  2. posted by David Bauler on

    1. If I were a legislator, I be skeptical of a religious exemption that only applied to gays and didnt come with some LGBT civil rights protections in say, employment and housing.

    2. The peddler of bathroom bills and religious liberty bills aint defenders of liberty or bathroom etiquette. suggesting otherwise is dishonest.

    Reply
  3. posted by JohnInCA on

    If Catholic Charities wants to help arrange adoptions from Catholic parents to Catholic adopted-parents, I have no problem with that.

    What I have a problem with is when they pick my pocket to do so.

    Bottom line? You want to discriminate against a swath of Americans “because God”? Then do it on your own dime. The moment you demand state funding to enable your discrimination, you’re crossing a line from “religious liberty” to “religious entitlement”.

    And sorry, but the whole “think of the children” card is a red herring. As Tom pointed out, others step in. So if others can and will step-in, and won’t discriminate, why should we continue shoveling money towards groups that are proud of discriminating?

    Reply

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