catholic charities adoption | Chicago Illinois Family Law Blog
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act grants the rights of traditionally married couples to civil union couples, including the right to adopt. This caused quite a bit of controversy when Catholic Charities refused to offer civil union adoption services to same-sex couples. Although Catholic Charities, which was publicly funded though a private religious organization, has since withdrawn from the legal battle to continue receiving state funds while reserving the right to refuse adoption services, it is not the end of the battle between religion, same-sex civil unions, and state law.
According to ChicagoPhoenix.com, a bill that would have amended the Civil Union Act to allow religion-based child welfare organizations to refuse adoption services to civil union couples was killed in Springfield by civil rights activist groups such as the Illinois ACLU and LGBT groups such as The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA). The bill, which was introduced in October, would have ultimately allowed religious adoption institutions to discriminate against lesbian and gay civil union couples. This bill is only one of several similar bills introduced since last year.
The Illinois civil union law has spurred an ongoing battle between Catholic Charities and the state over the adoptive rights of same-sex couples. Under state law, adoption services under Illinois contracts are required to allow same-sex couples to adopt, as per the rights given to them by the civil union law. Catholic Charities, however, has refused to comply with the law because it contradicts the teachings of their faith. When the state declined to renew their contracts, Catholic Charities took their fight to court and still continue to fight the decision, except for the Peoria Diocese, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Illinois declined to renew its adoption services contracts with Catholic Charities of Peoria, Springfield, Joliet, and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois in Belville when the organizations refused to provide adoption services to civil union same-sex couples, though they said that they would refer them to other agencies. This is still considered discrimination by the state and thus the cancelled contracts were upheld in court. All but the Peoria Diocese plan to appeal.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Catholic Charities in Illinois will once again be able to take on new foster care cases, in spite of the efforts of the state to block the group over a dispute regarding civil unions and gay rights. A judge in Sangamon County made a temporary ruling on July 18 after the state consented to permit Catholic Charities to take new cases, at least for the next few weeks. However, the agency will not place children with couples that are unmarried or gay.
Previously, Catholic Charities sued the state over whether they should be required to assist gay couples seeking to adopt or become a foster parent. Then, the agency alleged that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had violated an order that required the state to uphold the agency’s contract while things were decided in circuit court. DCFS had allowed close to 2,000 foster children who had been placed by Catholic Charities to remain under the group’s watch and in place. However, despite the order, the state refused to permit the agency to place children in new foster care cases. Catholic Charities sought to keep the cases coming. Additionally, the agency argued that the action by the DCFS was not in agreement with the order from the Sangamon County judge since it did not maintain operations as though the agency and the state had a contract in place.
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