A Republican congressman from New Jersey appears to have told a group of high school students in his district that kids without families might be better off living in an orphanage instead of same-sex adoptive parents.
The Los Angeles Blade's Chris Johnson reports that Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has served in Congress since 1981, attended an assembly of high school students at Colts Neck High School on May 29 this year.
During the Q&A session, high school senior Hannah Valdes asked the congressman about his opposition to same-sex couples adopting children.
In 1999, Smith had voted for a legislative amendment that would have prevented gay parents to adopt in the District of Columbia.
Valdes shared that she has a lesbian sister who would like to adopt at some point in the future, and so wanted to know why Smith felt her sister would be “less of a legitimate parent” than folks in heterosexual relationships.
Smith, according to a recording provided to the Blade, seemed to dodge the question saying “the issue, legally, is moot at this point especially with the Supreme Court decision” in an apparent reference to the 2015 case, Obergefell v. Hodges.
Smith added, that Valdes’ sister is “free to adopt.”
To be clear, however, in the aftermath of the 2015 SCOTUS ruling, states have begun to enact legislation allowing faith-based adoption agencies to decline placement of children with LGBT parents via a claim of ‘religious freedom.’
So, Valdes’ sister may not find herself so “free to adopt” at some point in the future.
When pressed further on the subject, Smith also alluded to the idea that “there are many others who would like to adopt who can acquire a child,” and for those folks “the waiting periods are extremely long.”
Another student asked about these “others” and why they would be more suitable for adopting than, say, Valdes’ sister.
Smith began his reply saying, “In my opinion, every child needs every possibility of,” but stopped short of finishing his thought. Many in the audience felt he was heading down the path of saying children should have every chance of being raised by a mother and a father.
It’s at that point that Smith switched things up saying, “Somebody mentioned orphanages before. I mean, orphanages are still a possibility for some kids.”
Wait – what?
According to the Blade, one shocked student followed that statement up with the question, “You’d rather have kids in an orphanage than with…?”
When asked whether Smith still felt that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt, he said he did.
Valdes told the Blade, “Smith responded by saying he does not approve of gay adoption because gay households are not healthy environments for children to grow up in.”
He also referenced “numerous household studies” that indicate children do better with heterosexual parents than LGBT parents.
That statement is not accurate, however.
Dozens of studies have shown children of gay parents fare equally as well as children of straight parents.
The exchange was eventually cut off by an administrator who interrupted to change the subject.
It will come as no surprise that Smith has an abysmal record on LGBT issue in Congress.
He voted for the hideous Defense of Marriage Act as well as a constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage equality across the nation.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” Yep, he voted for that, too. When it came time to repeal the military ban, he voted against that.
He’s also a co-sponsor on the First Amendment Defense Act which aims to legalize LGBT discrimination via deeply-held “religious beliefs.”
Basically, Rep. Smith doesn’t seem to have met an anti-LGBT bill he didn’t like.
Smith’s opponent in the upcoming mid-term elections, Democrat Josh Welle, was asked by the Blade for his response to the assembly chat.
“Chris Smith’s out-of-touch views might have flown in 1980 when he was elected, but his time has passed,” Welle said. “In 2018, in Central Jersey, it is unacceptable to imply a child would be better off in an orphanage than with a loving LGBTQ family. As a veteran, I fought on the front lines alongside men and women who gave their lives to protect and defend the civil liberties that our Constitution ensures for everyone, not just a few. Chris Smith takes us backwards on inclusion and basic human rights for all.”
Here's wishing Welle luck in the mid-terms, although, considering the 4th district has been held by Smith for 37 years, he may need it.