The civil unions law enacted in Illinois on June 1, allows the state to shut down adoption and foster care services receiving Federal assistance but which discriminate against gays and lesbians wishing to adopt children or act as foster parents.
Catholic Charities in the Dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joilet filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Attorney General and the Department of Children and Family Services in Sangamon County Circuit, on June 7, to be allowed to continue working only with married couples and single parents who are not cohabiting. Currently all three dioceses have ceased all state-funded adoptions and foster care placement services.
The attorneys contend that the Illinois Human Rights Act protects religious adoption agencies from the civil unions law and that civil union couples are allowed to choose among dozens of alternative organizations for adoption and foster care services.
Catholic adoption and foster services organizations are estimated to handle up to 20 percent of all adoption and foster care cases in Illinois and according to Steven Roach, head of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Springfield, "Child welfare advocates know it is in the best interest of Illinois children for Catholic Charities to stay in business."
Tom Brejcha of the Thomas Society, whose attorneys are representing the Catholic adoption and foster care services providers, said, "Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois…and Catholic charities have a clear right under Illinois law to pursue charitable good works in the true spirit of the Gospel and the Sermon on the Mount…"