Last year, Target adopted a corporate policy allowing individuals the freedom to choose which restroom to use based on their self-perceived gender identity. As a result a man who identifies himself as a woman may use the same restroom as Little Maria or Grandma Emma. I think this is a terrible policy.
In 2015, Starbucks publicly announced its support for same-sex marriage. When some stockholders objected to the company taking a public stance on a divisive issue, CEO Howard Shultz told them that if they didn’t like the company’s position, “You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company.” I also think that was a wrong decision for the coffee company to take.
But I’m also a staunch supporter of freedom. And freedom allows for differences of opinion. It means that people, organizations, and companies can espouse certain values and beliefs with which I disagree. It means that they can act consistent with those beliefs without fear of being thrown in jail or fined into oblivion by the government. So while I disagree with the positions taken by Target and Starbucks, I do not believe that the government should be able to tell them what to believe or whether they can operate their business consistent with their values.
Freedom is what Senate Bill 149 is all about. It ensures that adoption agencies across the state can operate consistent with their religious beliefs without fear of being shut down or punished by the government for doing so.
Some people are going to agree with the religious convictions held by some of the adoption agencies in the state; others will staunchly disagree with those beliefs. And that is okay. In fact, that is what makes America distinct from many other countries on earth. We can strongly disagree about beliefs and ideas and still peacefully live together.
The opponents of SB149, do not simply disagree with the beliefs held by religious adoption agencies in South Dakota, they oppose giving adoption agencies the freedom to hold those beliefs. They want the government to have the authority to determine what organizations can believe and whether or not they can operate in accordance with those beliefs.
So if a local government, any government, disagrees with an adoption agency’s belief regarding the importance of placing a child with a married mother and father, then opponents of SB149 think the government should be able to shut down that agency.
That, my friends, is not freedom.
If SB149’s opponents are so upset that some adoption agencies may hold values they don’t like, I have a suggestion for them: start your own adoption agency. Start a dozen of them. Set your own policies and incorporate your own beliefs into your agencies’ practices. If a local government, any government, disagrees with your agencies’ beliefs, maybe then you will see the wisdom of SB149. Because in that moment, you will hopefully realize that SB149 also protects your freedom to operate your adoption agencies consistent with your beliefs.
› Dale Bartscher’s Op-Ed is written with the aid of ADF and FHA Staff.