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Catholic Adoption Agencies Suing Illinois For Special Right to Turn Away Gay Couples

Catholic Adoption Agencies Suing Illinois For Special Right to Turn Away Gay Couples

Catholic charities that offer adoption and foster care services in the dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joliet have gone to court to request an immediate injunction protecting them from state laws so they can continue to deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.

From the Chicago Tribune:

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Sangamon County Circuit Court, the three Catholic Charities agencies asked a judge for a temporary restraining order and injunction that would prevent the Illinois attorney general and state Department of Children and Family Services from enforcing new anti-discrimination policies that accommodate civil unions, which went into effect last week.

Catholic Charities’ complaint cites a letter from the attorney general in March demanding documents for an inquiry into whether state laws prohibit religious agencies from considering sexual orientation and marital status as factors in foster care and adoption.

The lawsuit asks a judge to resolve the question “to avert an imminent risk of irreparable harm to many thousands of vulnerable and needy children, families and adults across the state of Illinois and to avoid the collapse of a critical network of social service agencies at a time when our state’s budget crisis already has stretched vital social services resources to the breaking point.”

Catholic Charities asked the court’s permission to refer civil union couples to other child welfare agencies while exclusively granting licenses to married couples and singles living alone.

[Read more at the Chicago Tribune.]

This is after Illinois’ civil unions law came into effect on June 1. The law grants same-sex couples all the state-sanctioned rights of marriage, including the right to jointly adopt. The law does not give special dispensation to Catholic agencies that run adoption services on behalf of the state — that is to say, those that receive public money.

Lawyers for the agencies, all of which are publicly funded, argue that religious freedom of conscience must be preserved and that there are adequate adoption services elsewhere to cater for all prospective parents — they just want a special exemption to the law so that they can turn away same-sex couples per their beliefs.

Following the signing of the civil unions law, the state administration began and is still looking into whether adoption services receiving public money can, under the state’s human rights act, be allowed to discriminate. This lawsuit has been characterized as a preemptive move against that.

On the same day that the civil unions law came into effect, the Catholic Charities of Rockford closed its doors rather than comply with the measure, characterizing this as an example of religious freedom of conscience being stepped on. LGBT rights charities and child welfare groups hit back saying that the law did not compel them to endorse same-sex couples at all and in fact only demanded that agencies honor their primary commitment to the children in their care by allowing them the chance at being house in a loving home.

This lawsuit and the spirit behind it will no doubt serve to bolster calls for a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would ban civil unions as well as same-sex marriages in the state. This was proposed last month by a group of religious conservatives who say the civil unions bill was passed by lawmakers against the will of the people. Read more on that here.

 

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attriubtion License with thanks to nerdcoregirl.

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71 comments

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9:46AM PST on Nov 13, 2014

Elena D: No one is placing any restrictions on 'religious freedom'. Actually, this country was founded on the 'freedom FROM religion.' No one is preventing the Church from their expression of what they believe in. They are VERY vocal about their beliefs & no one has stopped them. As a Catholic mother of 4 adopted children, however, I don't want my tax dollars to be given to any religious organization which practices any form of discrimination. From experience, my husband and I found Catholic Charities to be incredibly prohibitive and restrictive in their criteria. That's their prerogative. But they shouldn't be given state money to express and enforce their religious beliefs.

3:07PM PST on Nov 12, 2014

Elena--if they were not funded by state money, you would absolutely right. They would have the right to choose who to adopt to. But if they are being funded by state money, they can't discriminate. If they don't want to adhere to the law, they need to be funded privately.

6:54AM PST on Jan 9, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:16AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Why doesn't the Church take the money it's using for this bigotted suit, and do something good with it. Frankly, we should be taxing the Church. No organization with such power should be so dicriminatory. I'm ashamed to be Catholic most of the time lately.

1:13PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Just because one is "religious" does not mean they are not entitled to civil rights, and at the same time, the "religious" has not right to violate civil rights of others.

1:10PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

I am Catholic, and the married, heterosexual mother of 4 adopted children. What children need is a loving home. People who will love them unconditionally, provide for all their needs, teach them respect and tolerance, and give them opportunities to grow and develop into mature members of society. Whether a married couple, gay couple or single parent... if those persons can meet the the qualifying criteria of the adoption agency (background checks, etc) then sexual orientation should not be a consideration. Too many dysfunctional people give birth to children! My advice, however-go to an adoption agency that does not have such limitations.

10:32AM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

I AM SICK AND TIRED OF HEARING PRIESTS BEING CALLED PEDOPHILES. THE AMOUNT OF GOOD AND SAINTLY PRIESTS IS ENORMOUS AND THE NUMBER OF PEDOPHILES HAS BEEN MINIMUM, ALTHOUGH THE HARM DONE TO CHILDREN AND TO OUR CHURCH HAS BEEN GREAT. IN THE CASE OF OUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, CATHOLIC ADOPTION CENTERS HAVE TO BE ALLOWED TO STICK TO THEM AND REFER HOMOSEXUAL COUPLES TO GO ELSEWHERE. WHERE IS OUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM??? elena

6:31PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

You know what, Tom? Just because there are two men or two women doesn't mean the home is unstable. The "complementary nature" line is garbage. Does this mean that single parents (by divorce or death of the spouse) should lose their children because they don't have both parents who do the "complementary nature" thing? With luck a children in homes with two moms or two dads will have aunts, uncles, grandparents, and family friends who will make sure the kids have well-rounded upbringings.

The only thing that matters is that the kids are in a loving, supportive home, no matter what sex the parents are.

2:19PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

How terribly sad to seek to deny a loving couple a child. And to deny a child loving parents who WANT it. I can't imagine what cruel "religious" principles would support that. It seems rather the opposite of "charitable". It would be a misuse of public funds to back this nonsense.

8:22PM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

I fine with same sex couples adopting, just not catholic priests adopting little boys....

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