Romney Seeks Narrow Bill On Church, Gay Adoptions

Boston, USA - Gov. Mitt Romney has asked his staff to draft a "very narrow" bill that would let Catholic Charities provide adoption services without serving gay couples.

The governor acknowledged that same-sex couples have a legitimate interest in adopting children, but he said the services Catholic Charities provides are more important than maintaining a faith-blind law.

"They have within their religion the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that children should not be sent into homes without a mother and a father," Romney said Monday. "We'd like them to be able to be true to their religion."

Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley sought the exemption, and Catholic Charities said last week it would stop providing adoption services once its current state contract ends because it must allow gays and lesbians to adopt children under state law.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is openly gay, was critical of Romney's plan for resolving the issue, saying it was driven by his presidential aspirations. The governor has acknowledged he is considering a White House bid in 2008 and has sought to highlight his connections to social conservatives.

"This is not a competition where the question is, 'Okay, we have this child to be adopted, should we auction the child off to Boy George or does he go to live with the Cleavers and Wally and the Beaver?"' Frank said. "The fact is, the question is whether the child will be adopted at all."

Romney argued that exempting Catholic Charities from nondiscrimination rules would not inhibit gay couples from adopting because "there are many, many other agencies that can meet the needs of those gay couples."

Most adoptive children in Massachusetts are placed by the Department of Social Services. Catholic Charities has placed 720 children in adoptive homes, including 13 with same-sex couples, in the past two decades.

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, a fellow Republican hoping to succeed Romney as governor, recently said she disagreed with the governor's position.

"I believe that any institution that wants to provide services that are regulated by the state has to abide by the laws of this state, and our anti-discrimination laws are some of the most important," Healey said.