Marriage amendment supporters make false claims about Catholic Charities

Minnesota for Marriage, its surrogates, and representatives of the Catholic Church have made the claim that Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, DC. had to stop their adoptions services because same-sex marriage was legalized in those juridictions. That’s not true. And here’s why:

First, here are the claims being made.

Minnesota for Marriage says: “Religious groups like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington DC have had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs, or acquiescing to this new definition of marriage. They have, for example, been forced to close their charitable adoption agencies.”

They repeat the claim in this press release.

Katherine Kersten makes the claim in a recent column. So does a Catholic Church captain charged with organizing around the amendment. The St. Cloud Diocesan Council of Catholic Women makes a similar claim on their website.

Pastor Jeff Evans, a church organizer for Minnesota for Marriage, made that claim to PBS in a recent article on the amendment. Craig Nelson in the Brainerd Dispatch writes, “In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to get out of the adoption business rather than place children with same-sex couples as the law required.”

Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesota for Marriage, in an op/ed at the Rochester Bulletin said:
“Religious organizations like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington, D.C., had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs or acquiescing to this new definition of marriage. They were forced to close their charitable adoption agencies.”

University of St. Thomas law professot Teresa Collett says in a Diocese of New Ulm publication (PDF) that “Catholic Charities has been denied the ability to continue their adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., because these organizations wanted to ensure adopted children would have both a mom and a dad.”

Fact: Catholic Charities in Boston had been placing children with same-sex couples long before that state legalized same-sex marriage. It was the Vatican that forced the Catholic Charities in Boston to stop adoption services.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that when opponents of marriage equality launched ads in that state used the same statements, it was a “false story.”

The man who, in 2005, was chairman of the board of directors for Catholic Charities of Boston, Peter Meade, has set out, in his words, to “set the record straight.” Meade writes:
“Opponents of the freedom to marry ignore the truth and distort history when they talk about Catholic Charities of Boston and its decision to shut down its adoption services. I’m shocked and amazed that so many years later, they are making the false claim that Catholic Charities’ decision had anything to do with allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to marry.”
As the Boston Globe has documented, Catholic Charities placed 13 children with gay couples BEFORE the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. The children were largely from difficult backgrounds and among those “harder to place,” in Meade’s words.

The Seattle PI also noted that it was the Vatican that shut down adoptions.

“In 2005, tragically and out of the blue, the Vatican ordered our diocese to cease using the single criteria of ‘best interest of the children,’” writes Meade. “They ordered us to stop facilitating adoptions to qualified gay and lesbian households.

“I objected strenuously for two reasons. First and foremost, the Church hierarchy was telling us to violate the best interests of the children who were in our care. It was an arbitrary edict that, to many of us, had nothing to do with what was best for these kids and undermined our moral priority of helping vulnerable children find loving homes.”

The claims made by Minnesota for Marriage are a gross distortion of what actually happened in Massachusetts.

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