WASHINGTON – Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) argued that no religious-based adoption provider should be “forced” to renounce “deeply rooted” beliefs.
“In places like Illinois, Massachusetts, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., faith-based organizations have been forced to end their adoption and foster care services because of their religiously-mandated practice of placing children exclusively with married mothers and fathers,” Kelly said during a recent event at the Family Research Council.
“Faith-based providers have historically played an extraordinary role in caring for our country’s most valuable kids. Sadly, liberal state and local governments with the help of groups like the ACLU are targeting these providers and forcing them to choose between renouncing their religion or shutting down,” he added.
Kelly slammed the American Civil Liberties Union for suing the state of Michigan with the hope of making it illegal for the state to partner with religious adoption agencies like Catholic Charities. In Dumont v. Lyon, the ACLU argues that a state should not allow adoption and foster care providers to refuse homosexual couples.
“If the ACLU is successful in Michigan and elsewhere, more faith-based child welfare organizations will be forced to close and more children will be displaced,” Kelly said.
Kelly, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would “prohibit governmental entities from discriminating or taking an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child welfare service that conflicts, or under circumstances that conflict, with the sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions of the provider.”
If the bill was signed into law, the secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to “withhold” 15 percent of the federal funding that a state “receives for a program that provides child welfare services under part B or part E of title IV of the Social Security Act if the state violates section 3 when administering or disbursing funds under such program.”
Kelly said the legislation has more than 60 co-sponsors so far.
“This bill bans no one from adopting children, period,” he said. “You cannot take something away from somebody because they don’t think the same way you do, but if you are going to do that there’s going to be a penalty for doing that.”
The Human Rights Campaign opposes Kelly’s legislation, arguing that it would allow “adoption or foster care providers to deny adoption or foster care placements with qualified, LGBTQ individuals or same-sex couples on the basis of their personal religious objections.”
Kelly described a lesson he has learned about proposing bills after serving in Congress for eight years.
“There’s this idea that somehow, and I will be very critical about this, sometimes you fight the fight you have to fight, not the fight you think you can win,” he said. “And if you only think ‘I’m only going to bring up legislation that I know we can win,’ then you’re going to lose.”
According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, the organization performed 82 abortions for each adoption referral. In reaction to the report, Kelly said adoption should always be provided as an option for a pregnant woman.
“Give people the option… It’s a decision-making time for them and they just don’t know which way to go,” he said. “And sometimes they will take bad advice over good advice or they won’t be given the option of what could actually take place. And I think that is so unfair to any expectant mother that years later she looks back and says, ‘I wish somebody would have told me I had an option.’ Some people just go through really difficult times and, unfortunately, the way they think at that time is not the way they would think later, but that adoption as an option is so important.”