Judge Stops Illinois from Breaking Contract with Catholic Charities


When Illinois’ new civil unions law went into effect at the beginning of June, it was clear that a showdown between the state and Catholic Charities, which operates the caseloads of nearly 2,000 foster children.  And, sure enough, at the end of the month, Illinois severed its fifty-year relationship with Catholic Charities, because the agency had made it clear that it would refuse to place foster or adoptive children with gay couples, despite the new law’s passage.

Under its current policy, Catholic Charities grants foster care licenses only to married heterosexual couples or single individuals, and refers gay or unwed couples to other agencies.  Illinois did not take kindly to this open flouting of its new recognition of civil unions.  Now, however, a judge has ruled that Illinois cannot halt its contracts with Catholic Charities, at least not until a hearing in mid-August.

The Catholic Church has been known to put dogma before charity in other places where civil unions and gay marriage have been legalized.  The most notable example is in Washington, DC, where in late 2009, the Archdiocese of Washington, DC announced that it would not continue the social service programs it ran for the city unless the District changed its same-sex marriage law.  The threat flagrantly disregarded the needs of DC’s homeless population, one-third of whom use the shelters run by Catholic charities.

Here, the circumstances are a little different.  According to the Stamford Advocate, the state has been investigating Catholic Charities since March because of allegations that it discriminated against same-sex couples.  But the judge, John Schmidt, expressed concern that canceling the contracts so abruptly could hurt the children currently under Catholic Charities’ care.  Abruptly shifting the children’s cases to other agencies could, he said, cause “irreparable injury.”

The tension here is obvious: no one wants to cause harm to Catholic Charities’ foster children, which abruptly changing the agency base would probably do.  But, as an ACLU lawyer pointed out, the judge needs to be aware of “the terrible harm to children done by discrimination.”  As LGBT advocate Waymon Hudson pointed out, in the first month after the civil unions law went into effect, 1600 same-sex couples entered into unions.  All of those people would be denied adoptive and foster care rights by Catholic Charities.

Assistant Attorney General Deborah Barnes put her case succinctly: “The state declined to issue new contracts because the plaintiffs indicated they will not comply with state laws. There is no right to a contract with the government; they’re not compelled to then take control and administer it in a fashion which forces them to compromise their religious beliefs.”

For now at least, Catholic Charities will continue to deny adoption and foster care rights to same-sex couples.  When the hearing happens in August, however, the state will surely make it amply clear that when an organization like Catholic Charities receives public money, it needs to follow the law.

Related Stories:

Illinois Civil Unions Hit By Tax Dispute

Catholic Charities Suing Illinois For Special Right to Turn Away Gay Couples Seeking to Adopt

Illinois Catholic Charity Ends Adoption Services Rather Than Honor New Civil Unions Law


Photo from Andreas Tille via Wikimedia Commons.


Colbey Parker
diana P6 years ago

lol, seattleAnn!
i had that thought over a year ago. i finally started putting it in comments this spring. it's good to see others doing the same thing.
yes -- homosexuality, or an increase in its occurrence, could very well be an evolutionary adaptation. an attempt by nature to save the human species, as we over-breed (in general), and destroy the habitats that can sustain us.

hooray for illionois. those who will not follow state law should NOT receive state money. period. if the catholic group wants to continue with child placements, then they can do it without public financing.

but i do understand why the judge slowed the process down, wanting to make sure the children are safe.

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

Someone told me a great quote today: "If heterosexuals don't like homosexuality, then they should quit having gay babies." LOL, awesome. If you think about it, the homosexual community is really ahead of its time, as in, they are the advanced part of the human race. Why I say this is because the world has a severe over-population problem, and they are certainly not contributing to it. On top of that, they are willing to take care of the children that are unwanted by their heterosexual conceivers. In the modern world, they are doing better than most of us heteros.

Doug D.
Doug D6 years ago

I disagree with the stance the Catholic Charities has taken regarding adoption of children by gay couples, but I'm guessing that some of the birth parents placed the children they are giving up for adoption to the Catholic Charities specifically because they wanted the child to be raised in a home with heterosexual parents. If the birth parents specify so, I believe their wishes need to be respected. Most intelligent people realize that sexual orientation has nothing to do with parenting skills.

June Gollatz
June Gollatz6 years ago

Corporate Vatican Catholicism. What a shame.

Lawrence E.
Lawrence H E6 years ago

Quality child care is the ultimate desire and as such your question should be are the Catholic Charities placements good for children? If you are gay do you really think a Church acting against its beliefs is the best place for you to go for a placement. If you cut them out altogether the good placements that they would have given is never available. I can not believe that churches and their dogma are going to so restrict child placement that this service will not be provided by another nearby agency. Set a price the State will pay per placement and let anyone who can do good placements with all the neccessary child safety standards met earn that sum.

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson6 years ago

Glenna J.,YOU"RE RIGHT! Not only do homosexuals come from straight families, they come from EVERY FAMILY.The extent people go to try to keep their family from knowing is pitiful. Shame has no place in reacting to WHO YOU ARE . But, In1962 when I began college in Boston one of my new classmates asked if I'd go with him to apply for a job. I had no idea why he'd want me along so he explained.If he was accompnied by a GIRLFRIEND they would HIRE him .Otherwise they might suspect he was GAY. I went. He got the job and I learned a sad fact of life. Fear of homosexuality isnt RATIONAL. This boy was clean, well dressed and well spoken. He was from a leading family of a nearby MASS.town.BUT it wouldn't have been acceptable for him to work in s Boston deli if they'd known he was gay. I PRAY IT GOT BETTER FOR HIM.

Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

Catholic Charities are not very charitable. The sooner the state puts a stop to them the better!!!

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle6 years ago

I'm rather dismayed that the state is giving funds to a religious organization. This clearly violates the separation of church and state. I'm Ok with not taxing religious institutions but in turn our tax dollars should not be supporting religious organizations as well.

Akin Adelakun
Akin Adelakun6 years ago

Great article, thank you

Cheryl B.
Cheryl Bresney6 years ago

Just reaffirms the hypocricy of corporate Catholic. They are decidedly anti children. Practice religion as ye may, corporate, just not with my tax dollar.