Today the courts in Alberta reversed a decision that denied an evangelical Christian couple the right to adopt a child based on their views of gender and sexuality. Initially, it all seemed very promising. Government workers had provisionally concluded that the couple would provide a stable and loving home for a child. (Notably, the couple wanted to adopt an older child who would be less likely to be adopted. The man was himself adopted as a child and wanted to offer the same experience of a loving home that he had himself experienced.)
But then the couple was asked how they would react if their child wanted to explore their sexuality and was same-sex attracted. The couple responded that they would love the child unconditionally, but that they could not support the child’s decisions insofar as they violated the couple’s fundamental ethical and religious beliefs, including a prohibition on the licitness of same-sex relationships. Based on this conviction alone, the couple was denied their application.
It is that decision which was overturned today.
I am very heartened by this decision, not least because it means that another child will find a loving home. In addition, I find the government’s initial denial to be unfairly discriminatory.
Having said that, I don’t want to invoke a “persecution” narrative against Christians because I can appreciate the reasoning that would undergird the initial denial of the couple’s request. To see my reasoning, consider another hypothetical case. Imagine another couple that applies to adopt. They too are initially seen to offer a loving home. But then they state their opinion that they would not support their child dating a person of another ethnic identity because they do not believe in “race mixing”. Would this be a grounds to deny their request for adoption?
I suspect that most people would agree that this second couple’s views are retrograde and discriminatory, sufficiently so that it would be reasonable to deny their request. With that in mind, insofar as one views the condemnation of same-sex relationships as analogous to the condemnation of inter-racial relationships, one would see the reasonableness of rejecting the former as surely as the latter. For this reason, I can appreciate the basis for the initial judgment, even if I do not share it.
Needless to say, the couple would see things differently. And so let me close by giving what might constitute a rebuttal. The couple would surely deny that their view is relevantly analogous to a prohibition on interracial dating. Rather, they would likely see it as analogous to the prohibition on some other behavior they deem unethical. For example, imagine if the government representative had asked them of their willingness to allow an adopted child to pursue polyamorous relationships (i.e. concurrent sexual relationships with multiple partners). Here too, the prospective parents would surely say no because they judge this to be an unethical lifestyle which violates sexual norms. And I can imagine the vast majority of people would agree that an unwillingness to support a polyamorous lifestyle is not a sufficient reason to prohibit a couple from adoption.
To sum up, there are reasonable positions on both sides of this question, and each is informed by which case an individual believes is relevantly analogous to the denial of same-sex relationships.