For nearly 95 years, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Buffalo has provided adoption and foster care services in western New York.
On August 23, 2018, those services were discontinued when Catholic Charities announced that it could not, in good conscience, abide by a state requirement that “contracting agencies [allow] same-sex couples to foster and adopt children.”
“‘It is with deep sadness we acknowledge that the legacy of the high-quality, exceptional services which our staff provides to children and families through foster care and adoption will be lost,’ said Dennis Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo.” The decision was made after a same-sex “married” couple had applied to become adoptive parents through Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois and Massachusetts have previously shut down adoption and foster care services for similar reasons.
Monica Mahaffey, a spokeswoman for the New York Office of Children and Family Services, commented that “‘[discrimination] of any kind is illegal’” and added that “‘[there] is no place for providers that choose not to follow the law.’” Whether intentionally or otherwise, Mahaffey’s response echoed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 assertion that so-called “‘extreme conservatives’” have “‘no place in the state of New York.’”
Erie County Executive Marc Poloncarz blasted Catholic Charities’ decision, asking, “‘If a loving LGBTQ couple is willing to open up their home to a child and offer that child the love the child so desperately deserves, who are we to judge?’” Not surprisingly, Poloncarz is asking the wrong question. The real question is: If a loving faith-based charity is willing to provide adoption and foster care services, should the State of New York demand that the charity violate its own beliefs in doing so? In a state that truly respected religious liberty, the answer would be “no.”
If Gov. Andrew Cuomo truly cares about children in western New York, he will take immediate action to correct this injustice. We won’t hold our breath.