James and Tahnee Young sound like a couple who someday will make fine adoptive parents. It's commendable that they want to adopt a teenager who has been "overlooked by the system." But the Fargo couple is way off base in filing a lawsuit against Catholic Charities of North Dakota—seeking damages of $6.5 million, no less—because the agency refused to consider them for adoption because they weren't married at the time they submitted their application. The Roman Catholic Church's stance on marriage is longstanding and well known. Catholic teaching does not condone children out of wedlock, so it should be no surprise to anyone that the church would not permit adoption by an unmarried couple, even one that is engaged. That view is rooted in the belief that marriage provides a level of commitment and family stability that benefit the child.
We want to be clear that we are not opposed to unmarried couples adopting children. Marriage is not any guarantee of parental perfection; plenty of married couples make serious mistakes in raising their children, despite the beneficent bonds of matrimony. But we're dismayed by an attitude that fails to recognize, and accept, that a religious organization would adhere to its core principles as a matter of faith. We live in a nation of religious freedom. A Catholic adoption agency is well within its rights to insist upon adoption by married couples for reasons rooted in religious conviction. And couples are free to choose an adoption agency whose views align with their own.
The Youngs can't credibly claim that this came as any surprise to them. Instead of accepting Catholic Charities of North Dakota's restriction, and respecting that restriction's religious foundation, they chose to turn their disappointment into a court battle, claiming they have been discriminated against—and seeking an absurd sum in "damages." We agree with Catholic Charities; the claim is frivolous and without merit.
A cultural line can be drawn between the Youngs' peevish grievance and the ongoing controversy involving the refusal of some NFL players' refusal to stand for the national anthem. There is an increasing strand in our culture of people who believe that rules don't apply to them. In fact, NFL players, who are employees under contract, must abide by all sorts of rules. Their conduct is regulated, as in the manner they celebrate scoring a touchdown, and can't throw a fit over a referee's call. Those restrictions impinge upon their speech rights, but they are the rules of conduct they accept through their choice of employment. The same should be true of standing for the national anthem.