Ask Charles Mitchell.

The media may have painted the same-sex adoption fight as a battle over religious freedom. But Mitchell knows that there’s much more at stake.

When Massachusetts wanted to force Catholic Charities’ adoption services to submit to the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling about homosexual “marriage,” the Church refused.  The media played the story as a simple confrontation over religious rights — as if Catholic Charities’ right to affirm traditional marriage is only defensible in the same way as tribal religions’ rights to get high from peyote buttons.

People like Charles Mitchell who grew up with homosexual parents know that the Church’s opposition to the practice isn’t an eccentricity of Catholic belief. It’s a bold, counter-cultural stand in defense of children.

Charles Mitchell and two brothers were adopted as infants by two men.  He called same-sex adoption “a tragic social experiment” and said, “homosexuality destroyed a normal way of life for us.”

Often, the homosexual parents shown in the media are straight-laced, responsible men. Mitchell said that his “dad” and “uncle” weren’t unlike that. But “It’s not just the two people involved; it’s the environment.”

Both he and his two adopted brothers were sexually molested by friends of his “dad” and his “uncle.” To this day it is difficult for him to trust men, he said on a March 14 “Straight Talk Radio” broadcast.

The truth is, from the song “YMCA” to the Showtime program “Queer as Folk,” homosexuals have long celebrated sex with underage partners. In The Gay Report, by homosexual researchers Karla Jay and Allen Young, the authors report data showing that 73% of homosexuals surveyed had at some time had sex with boys 16 to 19 years of age or younger.

When the John Jay College of Criminal Justice thoroughly researched clergy sex abuse for the U.S. bishops, they found not a pedophilia crisis, but what Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, described as “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.”

John Jay’s report found that 81% of sexual abuse by clergy was homosexual.

McHugh called that a “bombshell” and said, “I’m astonished that people throughout America are not talking about it, thinking about it, and wondering about what the mechanisms were that set this alight.”

The mainstream media seem unwilling to admit the reality of the homosexual lifestyle, even as it is revealed for all the world to see.

Homosexual parades can’t be broadcast on network television  because they are filled with displays of public nudity and sexuality. A homosexual cable network in Canada tanked until it became a homosexual pornography channel. Then it boomed.

Though there are always exceptions, the homosexual lifestyle by and large is marked by sexual immaturity and immoderation. Growing up in this culture did permanent damage to the Mitchell brothers.

“The boys turned to self-destructive behavior,” reported Register correspondent Gail Besse last week. “One brother became a male prostitute and died of AIDS. Mitchell became promiscuous to prove he was heterosexual. As a child, he did not understand why he had no mother.”

Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a French psychoanalyst and consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family, suggested that the Mitchells’ experience is no surprise. Homosexual couples are unable to give children the model of sexual differences they need to develop their own sexual identity, he said in Rome at a Feb. 23 conference.

The media has trumpeted several studies that purport to show that adoption by same-sex couples doesn’t adversely affect children. But Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons of the Catholic Medical Association said that, when studies are done properly, with control groups, the data show overwhelmingly that homosexual adoption is a bad idea.

“In effect,” he said, “the social science research supports the recent statement of the Vatican that to deliberately deprive a child of a father or a mother through adoption by those in the homosexual lifestyle would inflict severe harm onto those children.”

As Catholics argue the case against homosexual adoption, we should argue for the rights of the Church. But we should also argue for the rights of the children.

It’s hard to argue against homosexual adoption. We don’t want to feel mean and moralistic. We want to feel tolerant, magnanimous and modern. We’d rather look only at the positive cases, ignore the rest and put a smiley face on the homosexual subculture.

The only problem: This strategy leaves all the pain to the kids.