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Missouri School Settles Gay Adoption Row

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All right, let’s get this day started right. Or is it wrong? We’ll let you decide on that one, readers.

Missouri State University has settled a lawsuit with a student by the name of Emily Brooker. It seems Brooker took issue with an assigment to write letters to her lawmakers advocating gay adoption. A good Christian of the Ted Haggard variety, Brooker couldn’t reconcile her academic dreams with her deep-seated belief that homos are rotten child-eating mongrels. Thus, she refused to do the assignment.

365 Gay reports:

Brooker claimed that after she refused to sign the letter because of her religious beliefs she was subjected to a two-and-a-half hour interrogation by faculty members, who allegedly asked her personally invasive questions such as, “Do you think gays and lesbians are sinners?” and “Do you think I am a sinner?”

To which Brooker replied, “You’re a hell demon, may you burn for all eternity for even posing such a question!”

Okay, she didn’t say that, but she did call her lawyers, who successfully argued that Brooker’s first amendment rights had been violated. As a result, MSU’s agreed to pay Brooker 9,000 bones and the offending profressor, Frank Kauffman has stepped down as the head of the program.

So, what was the program? Social Work. Nice, huh?

In case you’re not up on Missouri law, the state lifted the gay foster parent ban back in July, citing that the law did not specifically disqualify gays from fostering/adopting, thus they had a legal right. Conservative lawmakers vowed to write a bill that will permanently prohibit the homos from adopting or fostering children. Said bill has yet to be written.

As part of the social work program, Brooker’s professors urged her to sign the National Association of Social Work’s code of ethics, a contract that requires workers to honor LGBT rights. The code reads:

Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability.

That sounds pretty fair to us and when we first read this story we got pretty hot under the proverbial collar. The more we think about it, however, the more we wonder if Brooker had a right to protest the assignment.

This brings us back to our follow-up on The Garden Guy, in which we asked “should religion be simply a spiritual practice, or should people attempt to extend their religious beliefs to social – and thus potentially divisive – practices?”

Should social workers – those defenders of civil society, “family values” and America’s discarded children and adults – be forced to support cultures/ideals that contradict their religious practices? One reader says, “Religion should not be applied anywhere beyond the self”, while another insists, “If your religious values have no social values, then they have no value”. Both of which, we think, fall under the category of “notable” (obviously, because we’ve just noted them).

Loyal readers probably know where we stand on this issue, but why don’t you guys duke it our via comments and let us know what you think…

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Nov 10, 2006
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 12 Comments
    • Biscuit
      Biscuit

      I think that a social worker has a right to espouse his/her religious belief in every aspect of their lives excepting work. It is a state-paid position, and thus, he/she must follow the regulations of their job. If they want to have a job where they can discriminate based on their religious beliefs, they don’t need to be working in social services, it’s that simple.

      Nov 10, 2006 at 11:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • danifesto
      danifesto

      Okay here’s my take on this: as a gay Christian I feel a person can’t have it both ways _in this case_(get your mind out of the gutter people!). One can’t say “toleratance, acceptance, yay diversity” and out of the same mouth “but except for you honey, get the hell out!” If the assignment made her feel like her religious beliefs were being compromised, she shouldn’t have been pressed to compromise them. Her religious faith is part of who she is as a person and I think she has a right to that. Furthermore, she isn’t trampling on the rights of gay people or somehow trying to force others to believe the way she does. As far as the Garden Guy story- he’s not infringing on my life, liberty or pursuit of fabulousness. It’s his personal business to choose who he works for. Why not patronize TONS of gay and gay-friendly folks who want your business?

      Nov 10, 2006 at 11:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jim
      Jim

      Why do we have to respect other people’s opinion when they are wrong?

      Here’s how I look at it, exchange the word gay with either Black or Jew.
      “I’m sorry, we don’t do Black gardens. We don’t take Black money.”
      “I won’t support Jewish adoptions. I believe that Jews will burn in hell.”

      Discrimination is wrong. I do not need to respect it just because it comes cloaked as religion.

      Nov 10, 2006 at 11:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DivaJean
      DivaJean

      And then what if she decided to discriminate in her social work postion towards black people because they “carry the mark of Cain” as some radical neo-Nazi wingnuts believe?

      Sorry- once you look to a government job- especially social services- check your prejudice at the door.

      Nov 10, 2006 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AmyO
      AmyO

      I preface this by saying I am a lesbian in a 8 year relationship and have three children by adoption.

      I think the university went too far in forcing her to write a letter in opposition to the gay adoption ban. Is this Code of Ethics contract required for being a social worker or is it a voluntary thing that the Association has created? If it is voluntary, she has every right to refuse. Just as I have every right to refuse to sign a letter supporting the gay adoption ban or a suggested code of ethics that says homosexuals are all child abusers and should not be parents. This woman is still a student, and is under no obligation of state/government employment to sign anything. And not all those in the social work profession work government jobs. There are plenty of private adoption agencies and so forth.

      The issue here isn’t about her refusal to sign something against her beliefs. The issue is that she was forced to do so as part of a school assignment and then was berated and punished for non-compliance. No, I don’t agree with her belief, but I do agree that she has the right to believe it.

      As for her future in the “real world”, more and more agencies are requiring prospective employees to agree to work with all families and even support “all options” counseling (which includes discussing abortion) as a condition for employment. This student may find getting a job difficult when she gets out of school, especially if she continues to stick to her beliefs. But that’s her choice. I don’t think she’ll last long in any government position if she is overtly discriminating.

      Nov 11, 2006 at 2:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ed
      Ed

      Why is she going into the Social Work field? Would she not be more “at home” say getting a religious degree, or ministry degree? Or if at best get a social work degree at a Christian based University that subscribes to her beliefs.

      I am tired of people like pharmasists, doctors, medical students etc all claiming the mighty religious freedom to somehow avoid doing their duty! If this student truly wants to help people how can she fully do this without tolerance.

      BTW: I think Jesus clearly would want children to be raised by any loving family; black, gay, straight, single, married, disabled, blind, divorced – wherever there was love – the kids belong!

      Nov 29, 2006 at 3:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darrell Ferguson
      Darrell Ferguson

      The most interesting thing about this is your freedom to sterotype and belittle the student without knowing anything about her, as well as ignore the fact that there are many completely non-religous studies, including those done from gay proponents that support a need to love and respect homosexuals but acknowledge many negative and dangerous aspects of the lifestyle.
      Bigotry is not just something that conservatives or religous people show to liberals, but stupid, close-minded stances that replace intelligent discussion and disagreement with disrespect, name calling and hyperbole, in the any cause.

      Jan 26, 2007 at 5:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
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