Mitt Romney suggested that the government should continue to subsidize religious organizations that discriminate against gay couples in the adoption process during yesterday’s Palmetto Freedom Forum in South Carolina. While the presidential forum focused on the economy and jobs, Romney — whose past liberal stances on social issues have irked conservatives — was asked if religious adoptions organizations should continue to receive government contracts from states that allow for civil unions or same-sex marriage. He responded by professing his support for “religious tolerance and religious liberty” and explained that “means to me that we’re not going to force people of faith to violate their faith in order to carry out their profession”:
ROMNEY: In my state, for instance, about half of our adoptions were being placed by Catholic Charities. They had to get out of adoptions because they would not, under their faith, place children in the homes of same-sex couples. That’s a mistake. We should allow people and institutions to practice their faith and particularly if there are plenty of other institutions that are able to fulfill the responsibilities which government might apply to them.
Of course, it’s one thing for government to allow religious individuals or organizations to opt out of providing services to same-sex couples and another to use tax payer dollars to subsidize their discrimination. Once a state legalizes same-sex marriage or civil unions and defines sexual orientation as a protected class along with factors like race or marital status, organizations that contract with the state should not be allowed to use their religious objections to preempt civil law or benefit from special carve-outs that select against gay and lesbian couples.
But if Romney believes that religious beliefs override the equal protections of individuals, he can’t just stop at the gays (the group that he opposes on religious grounds). He would have to support the government contracting with religious groups who don’t think black people would make for good parents or Asian people or people with disabilities. It’s a fairly bigoted mindset and one that Romney certainly wouldn’t want to apply to other minority groups. The fact that he would allow for the exemption of gay people reveals what he truly thinks of them.
OnTopMagazine points out that Michele Bachmann gave a very similar answer to a question about whether federal legislation should “come in to protect the freedom of conscience of those religious providers.” “Well, yes I do, because I believe that is a right that is guaranteed to every American under our Constitution and bill of rights,” Bachmann answered.