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Liberal Values and Mandates

Posted By Don Boudreaux On March 14, 2006 @ 12:27 pm In Charity | Comments Disabled

Addendum: When I wrote the following post, my understanding of the goings-on in Massachusetts was only that the Massachusetts government prevents adoption agencies from discriminating against homosexual couples.  Inexplicably overlooking the final paragraph in the link I included in the post, I did not realize that Catholic Charities accepts government money.  I agree that receipt of government funds changes matters significantly.  Government has no obligation to continue funding any agency that discriminates against homosexuals — but I continue to believe that govenment has no business dictating which types of people private organizations can or must do business with.

………

A dear friend — one of the smartest people I know — and a
man of the left, sent me an e-mail taking issue with my refusal to condemn the
decision of Catholic Charities to pull out of the adoption business in Massachusetts.  The reason Catholic Charities is pulling out is that the Massachusetts government prohibits
adoption agencies from refusing to serve gay and lesbian couples
.  Being
Roman Catholic, Catholic Charities does not believe that children should be adopted by homosexual couples.

I am not Catholic.  And although I’m not homosexual, I don’t share
Catholics’ antagonism toward adoption of children by gays and lesbians. If I had my druthers, no adoption agency,
including Catholic Charities, would regard homosexuality as a liability for
couples seeking to adopt children.

But why condemn Catholic Charities for agreeing to serve
some but not all couples seeking to adopt children?  Why force Catholic
Charities’ contributors and employees to choose between adherence to their
creed and their wish to facilitate adoptions? Why not instead condemn the legislature for its in-your-face insistence
that adoption agencies share the full set of liberal values that the legislature apparently endorses — an insistence that, anyone should see, risks reducing the amount of charitable work done on behalf of children needing homes and of couples seeking to adopt?

I say that Massachusetts’ legislators only “apparently" have liberal values.  A true liberal tolerates others’
peaceful views; a true liberal doesn’t cram his or her values down others’
throats; a true liberal understands that an open society requires that
different people with different views be allowed peacefully each to act on his different
views, with time sorting out the bad from the good – and even modifying the
good in beneficial ways.

And a true liberal doesn’t insist that Mr. A will be allowed
to give generously and voluntarily of himself and his resources to persons W,
X, and Y only if he also gives, against his wishes, to person Z.

Why not let Mr. A himself choose who will be the object of
his charity?  Why penalize charitable
instincts by forcing those with these instincts to deploy their charitable impulses
in ways beyond their own choosing?

Suppose a Jewish organization is created to facilitate the adoption of young
children by Jewish parents.  Should the
legislature say “No No! We’ll have none
of that!  If you’re in the adoption
business, you can’t discriminate against Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and any
one else who seeks to adopt.”  Or suppose
a charitable organization is created to facilitate the adoption of children by
gay and lesbian couples.  Should the
legislature demand that this organization also spend its time and resources
facilitating adoptions by heterosexual couples?

All such mandates reduce the supply of charitable efforts.  What’s so liberal about that?

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