Catholic Charities fights Illinois civil unions law, drops foster care and adoption

Wed. June 1, 2011 5:23 AM by News Staff

Catholic Charities or Rockford displaces hundres of area children

Chicago, IL - As Illinois' historic civil unions law takes effect Wednesday, Rockford Catholic Charities will halt its state-funded foster care and adoption services, displacing 350 area children.

"This is a sad display of bigotry by Catholic Charities, and their bigotry will now be harming the children in their care," said The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) Executive Director, Anthony Martinez.

The non-profit said it made the decision to avoid getting sued for discrimination against gay and lesbian parents after an amendment designed to discriminate against same-sex couples was killed in the state Senate last week.

House Bill 3184, which was backed by the Catholic church and conservative lawmakers, would have allowed Illinois religious agencies the right to discriminate against couples in a civil union who are applying to adopt or foster a child.

TCRA and a number of gay rights advocacy groups worked with lawmakers to kill the discriminatory legislation.

Rockford Catholic Charities works with 11 counties in northern Illinois and maintains a $7.5 million state budget. 58 employees are expected to lose their jobs as the adoption and foster care services are phased out beginning Wednesday.

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services had anticipated the Catholic Charities action and plans to transition the children into private agencies with state contracts.

It remains unclear if Catholic Charities organizations in Peoria, Joliet, Springfield and Belleville will follow Rockford's decision to displace children in their care.