Illinois judge rules against Catholic Charities in adoption discrimination case

Thu. August 18, 2011 5:10 PM by News Staff

Catholic Charities refuses to adhere to Illinois' new civil unions law

Springfield, IL - In what is seen as one of the first court challenges to Illinois' new civil unions law, a Sangamon County judge ruled Thursday that the state can decline to renew its contract with Catholic Charities of Illinois.

In July the state said it would not renew foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities because the not-for-profit agency refused to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.

Since the civil unions law took effect June 1, the Peoria, Joliet, Springfield and Belleville dioceses said they'll only place children with married couples and single parents living along, in essence discriminating against gay and lesbian couples. 

In a three-page ruling released Thursday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Schmidt wrote, "No citizen has a recognized legal right to a contract with the government. The state may refuse to renew the plaintiffs' contracts."

Catholic Charities had urged the judge to prevent the state from severing the partnership, which has been in place for four decades. The contract is attached to more than $30 million in state funding.

Attorneys argued the religious agency had a legal right under the state's constitution to follow their religious beliefs when placing children.

Nearly 2,000 children could be impacted.