Illinois investigating foster care groups that discriminate against gay parents

Wed. March 2, 2011 11:49 AM by News Staff

Chicago - The State of Illinois is investigating whether social service organizations that turn away gays and lesbians as foster parents are violating state anti-discrimination laws.

Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency handle more than 3,000 kids in foster care, and they've been telling openly gay parents "Thanks, but no thanks."

The office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Gov. Pat Quinn, and the Department of Children and Family Services are all investigating whether this is a violation of the Illinois Civil Unions Act and the Illinois Constitution.

"We think we're a good partner with the state," Bob Gilligan of the Catholic Conference of Illinois told the Tribune. "If they see we are not, we will sit down and talk with them and we will continue to try providing these services as long as we can. We're not going to violate our religious teachings."

The religious agencies stand to lose millions in state funding if they're found out of compliance with the law.

Last year, a gay couple told FOX Chicago News about what happened when they tried to adopt a gay teenager who was in the foster care system and being supervised by Lutheran Child Family Services.

Basically, they were handed a written policy that outlined the agency's unwillingness to develop or license adoptive or foster care families who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning."

"She's like, 'Um, you need to read this. I don't want to waste your time. And have a nice day,'" parent Matt Nalett told FOX Chicago News.

"I couldn't believe that anyone would be so blatant in actually handing someone a written policy of discrimination," Fred Steinhauer said.