In Massachusetts, gay and lesbian couples may marry and adopt children. Massachusetts law requires adoption agencies to obtain licences from the state, and, as a condition of being granted a license, to refrain from discriminating against prospective parents because of their sexual orientation.
The Catholic Church views adoptions by gay and lesbian parents to be “gravely immoral”, and now seeks to exempt their adoption agency, Catholic Charities of Boston, from Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws.
Along these lines, the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the right of religious organizations to discriminate against its own members (and its employees) on the basis of gender, race and sexual orientation. For example, the law allowed the LDS Church to discriminate against blacks – not extending full membership rights to them – and the law currently allows the LDS Church not to hire an employee because he or she does not hold a valid temple recommend.
This right to discriminate is important because it denotes the separation between church and state, and prevents the state from “excessive entanglements” with the administration of a religious organization.
But why should the Catholic Church be exempt from anti-discrimination laws that ensure equal access to adoption for otherwise qualified prospective parents? Why should we grant religious organizations preferential treatment to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in placing children with adoptive parents? Is there a clear line separating church from state here, or is this another example of “excessive entanglements”?