Thursday, July 9, 2009

N.S.W. Parliament inquiry recommends legislating for adoption by same-sex couples

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that

SAME-SEX couples should be allowed to adopt children, a State Government parliamentary inquiry has narrowly recommended.

[…] Three members of the Legislative Council committee, including Ms [Christine] Robertson [Labor], supported same-sex adoptions while three, including the Liberal MLC David Clarke, opposed. However, as chairwoman, Ms Robertson had the casting vote.

In supporting the recommendation, the committee handed the Government a political hot potato. The Government stepped back from stirring controversy yesterday, saying it would "thoroughly consider" the report before commenting further.

[…] Besides Ms Robertson, same-sex adoption was supported by Amanda Fazio (ALP) and Sylvia Hale (Green). John Ajaka (Liberal) and Mr [Greg] Donnelly [Labor] opposed the move.

'Three supported, and the chairman's casting vote became the majority," said Mr Clarke. "I believe there is no mandate for the Government in this report. […]
The 205-page final report is available here; I downloaded the P.D.F. document but when I tried to save it to my hard drive something went wrong and it failed, and then when I tried to return to the document I couldn’t download it at all for some reason, so I’ll try again tomorrow or next week and might do a post about it then.

Reginaldvs Cantvar


Cardinal Pole said...

I've finally managed to save the Final Report to my computer and I've just begun reading it. Disastrous though the recommendation to legislate for same-sex adoption is, the Herald report neglected to mention that at least religious adoption agencies will, apparently, not be forced to participate in consigning children to such moral squalour:

"The Committee has determined that the Adoption Act 2000 should be amended to allow same-sex
couples to adopt, but that an exemption from the application of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 be
created for faith-based adoption agencies."
(p. 10)

Cardinal Pole said...

Ah, I see now, there's a catch:

"The conclusion reached by the majority of Committee members is that the Adoption Act should be
amended to allow same-sex couples to adopt, but that an exemption from the application of the Anti-
Discrimination Act 1977 be created for faith-based adoption agencies, subject to those agencies meeting a statutory requirement that they refer any same-sex couples who seek their services to another accredited adoption agency that will assist them."
(my emphasis, p.11)

Now I'm not sure that it would be morally licit for the Catholic agency (or any agency, of course), to subject themselves to this requirement. In order to co-operate in evil, the co-operation must be

1. Purely material
2. Remote
3. Motivated by a grievous proportionate cause (henceforth G.P.C.).

This kind of co-operation, like an abortion referral (to which there is a clear analogy here), would be purely material, and probably remote, but the problem is the G.P.C. There can never be a G.P.C. in the case of abortion, because the protection of innocent human life far outweighs the protection of, say, one's job or the possibility of a fine or imprisonment, but could there be a G.P.C. in the case of referral of same-sex couples to another adoption agency? If non-co-operation meant that the Catholic adoption service would have to be shut down altogether, then this might satisfy the G.P.C. condition. But if non-co-operation meant, say, a fine, then I doubt whether that would be sufficient cause. (The problem with fines, though, would be that sodomites could bankrupt the Catholic agency by putting forward one same-sex couple after another so that the fines mount up. And given the renowned bloody-mindedness of the Sodomites' League I don't think that we can rule this out.)

Cardinal Pole said...

An afterthought on the implications of a move to bankrupt religious adoption agencies: even with the prospect of ever-increasing fines I don't think that that would be a sufficient G.P.C., because a fine on any given occasion is not connected inseparably with the fine on another given occasion, so they can't be considered cumulatively--only the circumstances in each occasion can be taken into account, since future fines do not follow necessarily from the fine for any given occasion of no-co-operation.

Cardinal Pole said...

And then the question of referral by religious adoption agencies becomes even murkier:

"The majority of the Committee is also of the view that if an exemption is created, the Department should ensure that the role of the various accredited adoption agencies is such that all applicants for adoption have equal access to the different groups of children that are currently the focus of each agency’s work. For example, at present, Barnardos only deals with older children with complex needs, while Anglicare and CatholicCare focus on adoptions of unknown infants. DoCS facilitates both known and unknown adoptions. Unless DoCS and/or a secular non-government adoption agency continues to facilitate unknown adoptions, gay and lesbian couples would effectively be restricted to
utilising Barnardos, and their equity of access to unknown adoptions would be significantly restricted. It will be important to ensure that gay and lesbian people are not inadvertently precluded from applying to adopt unknown infants, that their access is not restricted by geography, or that they may, in effect, only adopt children with complex needs. Other members of the Committee do not support this view."
(p. 17)

Cardinal Pole said...

Here's something interesting:

"5.59 Family Voice Australia referred to Principle 6 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which states that ‘a child of tender years … shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be
separated from his mother’, arguing that on this basis placement of an infant with a male
same-sex couple would be in breach of international law."
(p. 110)

The conclusion of the relevant section seems to have failed to refute this argument. It seems, then, that N.S.W. will actually be violating Australia's international agreements, which is ironic, given that same-sex-adoption advocates have argued for same-sex adoption on similar grounds, i.e. on the grounds of implications for international agreements.

Cardinal Pole said...

Another interesting thing (see 6.20 in particular):

"6.19 In OV and anor v QZ and anor (No.2)483 the [NSW Administrative Decisions] Tribunal found that an organisation run by Wesley
Mission had discriminated against a same-sex couple on the grounds of homosexuality when it
refused to provide them with services relating to making an application to become foster
carers. The Tribunal awarded damages of $5000 each to the couple and ordered Wesley
Mission to review its policy on foster care services and make it non-discriminatory.

"6.20 The Tribunal rejected the argument put by Wesley Mission that the exemption in section 56 of
the Anti-Discrimination Act applied to this situation. In making its determination, the Tribunal considered (among other matters) the meaning of the terms ‘religion’ and ‘doctrine’ and
concluded that the belief that ‘monogamous heterosexual partnership within marriage is both
the norm and ideal’ was not a ‘doctrine’ of Christianity so as to attract the exemption in
section 56(d)."
(p. 144)

So apparently the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal is the arbiter of what are and are not Christian doctrines (!), and "the Tribunal’s decision has
created uncertainty as to the position of faith-based adoption agencies with regard to adoption
by same-sex couples." (6.22, p. 144).

Cardinal Pole said...

Ha ha ha, read the following sections and ask youself: to whom might 6.45 be referring?

"6.44 The Committee has therefore concluded that, as a matter of policy, faith-based adoption
agencies should be exempt from discrimination law in relation to providing same-sex couples
with adoption services.

"6.45 One member of the Committee, however, is of the view that it is wrong to endorse practices
that are inherently discriminatory and that no exemption should be available to any
organisation, faith-based or otherwise."

Cardinal Pole said...

I'm glad to see that it seems that some members of the Committee can see that referral, by religious adoption agencies, of same-sex couples to secular adoption agencies is still co-operation in evil:

"6.50 Other Committee members do not support this position. Requiring faith-based agencies to
refer same-sex couples who seek their services to another accredited adoption agency that will assist them totally compromises the position upon which they relied upon the exemption in the first place."
(p. 150)

Cardinal Pole said...

And those members were The Hon. John Ajaka M.L.C.:

"It is [his] view that to require faith-based adoption agencies to refer any same-sex couples that seek their services to another accredited adoption agency is essentially to force them to indirectly assist in the achievement of an outcome contrary to their underlying beliefs."
(p. 203)

and The Hon. Greg Donnelly M.L.C.:

"The proposed requirement of faith-based agencies to refer same-sex couples who seek their services to another accredited adoption agency that will assist them totally compromises the position they relied upon under the exemption in the first place."
(p. 205)

Presumably Mr. Clarke agrees with this, too.

(Interestingly, although Mr. Ajaka was one of the three Committee members who dissented from the Committee's recommendations, it was not, apparantly, because he regards same-sex adoption as wrong in all circumstances. Rather, it seems that it's because he wanted to see the scope of the law changes limited to adoption of 'known' children (children already belonging to one of the members of the same-sex couple). ('Unknown' adoption refers to adoption of a child not yet belonging to either member of the couple.) Hence he said that

"If amendment to the Adoption Act is to proceed, in accordance with Recommendation 1, then it is [Mr. Ajaka's] view that the extension of adoption eligibility criteria to permit same-sex couples to apply for adoption should only apply in respect of ‘known children’. Accordingly, I moved an amendment to Recommendation 1, to the effect that it only apply in respect of ‘known children’."
(p. 203)

Cardinal Pole said...

And if you're wondering who was the Committee member to whom section 6.45 referred (see my comment of July 14, 2009 1:04 AM), it was, of course, Ms Sylvia Hale M.L.C.(Greens):

"Resolved on the motion of Ms Hale: That after paragraph 6.44 a new paragraph be inserted as follows:

"One member of the Committee, however, is of the view that it is wrong to endorse practices that are
inherently discriminatory and that no exemption should be available to any organisation, faith-based or otherwise."
(pp. 195-196)

Cardinal Pole said...

Now that I've finished reading the final report I'll make two concluding observations:

1. As I've mentioned earlier, the irrefutable basis for opposition to same-sex adoption is that parents' most elementary duty towards their respective children is to give them credible instruction, by word and example, in the natural law, because it is the natural law by which we tell right from wrong, and same-sex couples are constitutionally incapable of giving this instruction. And indeed, Prof. Millbank's much-touted review of the literature provides evidence that children reared by same-sex couples are more open to defiance of the natural law, as does the following extract from the Committee final report:

"4.36 The Federation [of Parents and Citizens’ Associations of N.S.W., which is in favour of same-sex adoption] also referred to research regarding the impact of same-sex parenting on the sexual orientation and gender expression of children. It stated that this research had found:

"Children of same sex relationships were more open to and were slightly more likely to consider the possibility of having a same sex partner. However, both children from heterosexual parents and same sex relationships had similar proportions that identified themselves as homosexual."
(my emphasis, p. 85)

2. Another reason is that, as even some advocates of same-sex adoption acknowledge, children need access to members of the opposite sex, especially in order to provide role models for children of the same sex as the adults in question (i.e. the adults not belonging to the same-sex couple). See the following lesbian couple, for instance:

"3.87 Ms Sale talked about her foster children having three or four strong male role models and the special interests they share with their children, while also emphasising the different interests and qualities that she and Ms Bader bring to their parenting roles.182 She went on to say:

"I think it has to be understood here that we are not anti-men. Trust me, we love them, but just not to marry them. We understand the importance of having a male in the children’s lives. They are not surrounded by a mad bunch of females. There is a beautiful mixture here. A male is very important—we believe that—and that is why we have male role models in the children’s lives.183"
(my emphasis, p. 65)

But the best kind of access to members of the opposite sex--whether as role models or just so that children aren't completely unfamilar with half society's population--is the stable, domestic, day-to-day access provided by a married man and woman. Hence even the likes of Ms Bader and Ms Sale ought to see that, all else equal, a child is better of with a mother and a father than with two androgynous 'co-parents'. Yet here is what the Committee majority has to say in the conclusion of the relevant section:

“3.119 … Nor do the majority consider … that children in same-sex families necessarily have insufficient access to both male and female role models.”
(pp. 73-74)

But the access is, all else equal, necessarily inferior in the case of same-sex parents because the involvement of the opposite sex is, all else equal, necessarily more remote and more precarious, so the majority’s consideration is baseless. With respect to access to the opposite sex (not to mention in every other respect as well), it should be blindingly obvious that opposite-sex couples are going to be superior, and hence whatever access same-sex couples might try to provide is going to be insufficient.

Cardinal Pole said...

And when I said, in the previous comment, that

"Prof. Millbank's much-touted review of the literature provides evidence that children reared by same-sex couples are more open to defiance of the natural law"

the reference is:
pp. 43-44