Republican congressman Paul Ryan, who has touted his Catholic faith as evidence of his social as well as economic conservatism, has come out in favor of gay couples adopting children — a significant break with the Catholic hierarchy, which has even shut down adoption services rather than placing children with same-sex couples.

Via Roll Call:

In a town hall meeting with constituents in Wisconsin on Monday, the House Budget Committee chairman said he has changed his mind on the adoption issue, even though his opinions on other aspects of gay rights have remained unchanged. To date, two Republican senators — Rob Portman of Ohio, who had been in the mix for Mitt Romney’s No. 2 spot, and Mark S. Kirk of Illinois — have come out in support of gay marriage.

“Adoption, I’d vote differently these days. That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple, I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period,” Ryan said in a video posted by the liberal website Think Progress. “I would vote that way. I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, we just respectfully disagree on that issue.”

(snip)

In the past, Ryan has opposed almost every equality measure, getting a “0″ on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Congressional scorecard. He opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” supported the Defense of Marriage Act and voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Protection Act, which expanded federal hate crime laws to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

In his remarks Monday, Ryan said he has “always supported” civil unions. Though there is no evidence to support that, it’s a clear sign that the politics of the issue have changed and that even the most conservative Republicans need to appear more hospitable to gays and lesbians in order to expand their voting bloc.

This could spell more trouble for the Catholic bishops in their battle on gay rights; they have already been losing their own faithful, and losing political allies like Ryan is tough.

Then again, many would say Ryan’s economic policies were hardly in line with the bishops and Catholic teaching, so there.

Categories: Beliefs, Culture, Ethics, Institutions, Politics

Beliefs: ,

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He is a national reporter for RNS and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.

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