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Quinn to Catholic Charities: “We’re not going back”

Monday, Jul 11, 2011

* The Tribune ran a story today about a consequence of the state’s new civil unions law

The state of Illinois has declined to renew its foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities across Illinois, threatening to end a historic public and private partnership initiated by the Roman Catholic Church a half century ago and displace about 2,500 foster children.

Lawyers for three of the agencies will seek an injunction from a Sangamon County judge on Tuesday.

In a letter sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet, Springfield and Belleville, the Department of Children and Family Services told all four agencies that the state could not accept its signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year because “your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.” […]

During a meeting last month, lawyers for the attorney general’s office and DCFS reportedly told Catholic Charities that couples in civil unions must be treated the same as married couples when it comes to providing foster care services, said Peter Breen, an attorney with the Thomas More Society representing Catholic Charities. Spokespeople for the attorney general and DCFS could not comment immediately on Monday.

* The governor was asked about the development at a press conference this morning.

“They made a choice,” Quinn said, about the decision by the various Catholic archdiocese leaders to refuse to place foster children in the homes of couples joined by civil unions. “We’re not going back.”

“If an organization… decides they don’t want to voluntarily participate with the state,” Quinn said, “they have that choice and we honor that choice.”

* Listen to the governor’s full press conference…

* Quinn also claimed that the problem would be solved soon.

“We have other entities that are involved in foster care that are willing to assume that duty,” the governor said, without identifying any particular group. However, one group has already stepped up

David McClure, executive director of Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley, believes Catholic Charities left his agency no choice but to take care of the 330 children affected by Doran’s decision.[…]

Because agencies in the area were already approaching capacity, none could add Catholic Charities’ more than 300 families to its caseload all at once. While distributing the workload among different agencies was a possibility, families would be assigned new caseworkers and staff at Catholic Charities would simply lose their jobs. […]

McClure said he believed it could be done as long as all the resources accompanied the operation. DCFS assured him that would be the case.

“I just couldn’t find a good reason not to do it,” McClure said. “If we have the money to do it and they need it to be done, why would we not?”

* More on the dispute

Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society, represents Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Joliet, Peoria and Springfield. “The idea that a religious entity needs to check its religion at the door when it takes state money is a false idea,” Breen says.

For decades, he says, Catholic Charities has referred unmarried couples — regardless of their sexual orientation — to other agencies or back to DCFS, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

“If the theory behind civil unions is live and let live, then those folks who are for civil unions can also be for Catholic Charities, and other religiously based adoption agencies, to provide services to the state which are valuable. And [the agencies] can continue to do it without shutting down — without compromising their deeply held religious beliefs,” says Breen.

Kendall Marlowe, a spokesman for DCFS, says separate but equal just isn’t good enough and the state’s anti-discrimination position is clear.

* Jeff Ward at the Elgin Courier-News also tossed in his two cents

Since we last talked, the Joliet, Peoria and Springfield dioceses sued the state to force the issue as to whether they’re exempt from placing children with same-sex civil union partners. Those Catholics want to continue referring “unmarried” folks to other agencies, as they’ve done all along.

As much seeing my tax dollars go to a group that unfairly singles out gays makes me cringe, I hope they win their lawsuit. You see, these church adoption services are so superior to any state-run (and most private) programs that by applying their own greater good principle, I can accept something somewhat distasteful in consideration of the more pressing need for these children to find stable homes.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    OK, it’s not like this wasn’t predictable. DCFS needed a plan to handle the transition, and I’m not completely certain that they developed one. It sure feels like they’re winging it.

    Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services could sell their operations to a new manager. Some people might still lose their jobs, but this scenario might keep some employed and bring come continuity to the children in their care.

    Don’t expect the Catholics or Lutherans to change their minds, and don’t expect Illinois to grant any exemption. But somebody better be thinking about a seamless transition so those most vulnerable have an advocate during this process.

  2. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 11:42 am:

    ===Lutheran Social Services===

    Wrong group. You probably mean Lutheran Child and Family Services. Different Lutherans.

  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 11:43 am:

    Sorry, thanks for the clarification.

  4. - Just Observing - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 11:51 am:

    I don’t exactly know how these contracts are distributed, but if there are other qualified agencies ready to step-in and take these contracts under the terms set by Illinois then let’s move on beyond Catholic Charities and award these contracts to more progressive, 21st century agencies. Catholic Charities acts as if they somehow are entitled to these contacts.

  5. - just sayin' - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    Following New York, bet Illinois will have gay marriage before Quinn leaves office. Just a matter of time. And when it does pass, will get at least some Republican votes.

    Conservatives and Catholics are so weak and disorganized in this state, I don’t even see them putting up a speed bump to slow it down.

  6. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 12:09 pm:

    This becomes the focus for repealing the Civil Unions law. A very foolish thing for Quinn to do.

  7. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 12:13 pm:

    ===This becomes the focus for repealing the Civil Unions law===

    Only in your world Bill. Not only is that not going to happen, it is more likely than ever that the push will be on for full marriage rights.

  8. - just sayin' - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 12:39 pm:

    Totally agree with you 47th Ward.

    In fact a big reason why I think there’s only been a modest number of civil unions thus far is that same sex couples are just waiting for the real thing. No reason to settle for the watered down version.

    All the momentum is on the gay marriage side. I predict Illinois passage in early 2013, right after the big tide of Democrats who get elected next year to the IL general assembly are sworn in.

    Heck, Radogno and Cross would probably vote for it today if it came up.

  9. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    - This becomes the focus for repealing the Civil Unions law. -

    Don’t you ever tire of making predictions that don’t pan out?

  10. - Liberty First - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    So IL Dept of Revenue can discriminate and no one else? The religious groups offered a reasonable compromise and one within their own constitutional protections.

  11. - Wensicia - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    It’s about time the Catholic Church realized they don’t rule the world, and the rest of us, including our government’s representatives, don’t have to follow their rules. And guess what, the Church doesn’t have to follow our rules, either. Just stay out of government funded business.

  12. - john parnell - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:02 pm:

    In the 80’s my wife and I went to both Lutheren and Catholic Social Services to apply to adopt a child. My wife was Lutheren and I was Catholic. The Lutherens told us since I was Catholic, they could’t help us. The Catholics told us since my wife was Lutheren they couldn’t help us either.
    Both should have banned from receiving funds from the state then and now.

  13. - Demoralized - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:22 pm:

    This is exactly why those who argue against government social services in favor of totally social and religious based services are wrong. As long as religious or other social institutions are allowed to discriminate by demanding that the recipients abide by their belief systems that paradigm will never work. Provide the services needed to everybody or don’t provide them at all.

  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:32 pm:

    Dear deleted ALL CAPS person,

    I hope you enjoyed your first commenting experience because you are now banned. Adios.

  15. - Soccermom - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 1:56 pm:

    You are deleting based in capitalization now? Gosh, I hope you don’t get tough on em dashes next…

  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===You are deleting based in capitalization now? ==

    No, but usually those who post using ALL CAPS are also a bit on the nuttier side.

  17. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:18 pm:

    Regarding predictions that don’t pan out.

    Look at Iowa.

    I’m a Unitarian Universalist. My Church has made SSM a core focus. So I’ve followed the issue, and by turning this from an issue of marriage into an issue of discriminating on adoptions, Quinn’s turned it into a vastly diffent sort of issue.

    I favor SSM and marriage for that matter, and financially support a Church that will perform such cermonies.

    But if civil unions means Illinois tells other Churches what they have to drop a man and a woman marrige as placement criteria, I’d probably vote against it. Government fiddeling in religious doctrine not worth it.

    This action will fuel a repeal movement. Quinn was foolish to talk like this, and advocates foollish to go along with it.

  18. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:29 pm:

    - Look at Iowa. -

    Illinois isn’t Iowa.

    - But if civil unions means Illinois tells other Churches what they have to drop a man and a woman marrige as placement criteria, I’d probably vote against it. -

    Illinois isn’t telling them anything like that. They’re just telling the churches they won’t get public money if they treat same sex marriages differently than marriage between men and women. This is not really a difficult concept.

  19. - Pat Robertson - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:30 pm:

    ==So IL Dept of Revenue can discriminate and no one else?==

    35 ILCS 5/502(c)(1)(C) says, “if the federal income tax liability of either spouse is determined on a separate federal income tax return, they shall file separate returns under this Act.” Until that is changed, or the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repealed or declared unconstitutional so that civil unions can file joint federal returns, IDOR doesn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

  20. - How Ironic - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:33 pm:


    This will do nothing to forward the agenda of the Church. If nothing else it points out the absurdity of the stance the Church takes. It would rather that children go unserved because of what 2 consenting ADULTS do in the privacy of their bedroom.

    If the Church really cared about the welfare of these children it would continue to serve them regardless of state aid. But now that well has run dry, the Church is now trying to make it a different arguement.

    Plainly, discrimination is wrong. And the State shouldn’t be supporting institutions that propogate hatred and intolerance.

  21. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:34 pm:

    It’s not just money Small Town Liberal. Illinois is responsbile for the kids and contracts with agencies to place them. It wouldn’t matter if the agencies did it for free.

  22. - Anon III - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===You are deleting based in capitalization now? ==

    Maybe the “Caps Lock” key was stuck.

  23. - lincolnlover - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:40 pm:

    As a Catholic, perhaps not funding a huge network of social services (not all of the operating revenue comes from the state) might mean there is more church money for schools and other charitable causes. As an ex-board member of Catholic Charities, the work these people do is selfless and invaluable. Church based social services are mostly not-for-profit. Will private groups cost the state more and will their employees be as dedicated? Or is this just another way for Quinn to screw-up?

  24. - Responsa - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    47th Ward makes excellent points about the non-existent transition plan, and I strongly agree with Jeff Ward’s “greater good” statement from Rich’s final paragraph.

    I’m very sorry some sort of compromise or accommodation could not have been made here. In the zeal to honor one set of very worthy social goals (gay rights) another set of very worthy social goals (decades of quality care and good adoptions by Catholic Charities) has been sacrificed. It beggars reason. Even on this thread some people seem to smirk and get pleasure that Quinn gave Catholic Charities a comeuppance–that the Catholic Church “lost”. How smart people cannot see that it’s vulnerable real live children who have been made the losers in this fiasco (not the archaic structure of the Catholic Church is beyond me.

  25. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 2:47 pm:

    @Ironic …discrimination is wrong…

    The arguments gonna be discrimination on placing an orphan in a family should be of the most discriminating sort; and the risk of error should be on the side of failing to place a child vs less discrimination and a bad placement.

    Discrimination not a bad word when placing kids and that’s the argument that will be made. It will be a powerful one.

  26. - Liberty First - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:12 pm:

    Some of you anti-relegionists ought to read the Illinois constitution which is a higher law than acts of the legislature.


    We, the People of the State of Illinois — grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy and seeking His blessing upon our endeavors — in order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people; maintain a representative and orderly government; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual; insure domestic tranquility;
    provide for the common defense; and secure the blessings of freedom and liberty to ourselves and our posterity - do ordain and establish this Constitution for the State of Illinois.

    The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession
    and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be
    guaranteed, and no person shall be denied any civil or
    political right, privilege or capacity, on account of his
    religious opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby
    secured shall not be construed to dispense with oaths or
    affirmations, excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify
    practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State.
    No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry
    or place of worship against his consent, nor shall any
    preference be given by law to any religious denomination or
    mode of worship.

  27. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:20 pm:

    No one is doing anything to the Catholic Church other than telling them they have to play by the rules around here.

  28. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:30 pm:

    @Liberty Tell you the truth, I could use that clause to argue either case (and not sure which side you’re arguing.

    The State of Illinois responsible for orphans, and will contract with agencies to provide temporary homes and adoption placments.

    For some agencies a two-parent-married-partners-of-diffent genders one of the placement criteria. I want agencies to discriminate hard to find the hard parent(s). I don’t have a problem with different agencies having different criteria i.e. Catholics w/ Catholics, Jews w/Jews, Muslims w/ Muslims. I don’t have problems with agencies having tighter requirements on just what a Marriage is then the State of Illinois has.

    Whether those criteria grounded in Relgion or Social Science not really an issue for me. I can live with multiple agencies using multiple criteria measured against a measure of outcome on the welfare of the kid placed.

    It’s not any Constitutional Right to Free Practice of Religion, although I think Quinn trying to make it into a discrimination case pretty dumb and smakes of him getting into the Ethics business which is really shakey ground for any Illinois Politician.

    Adoption agencies discriminate. They should. It’s the most important kind of discrimination. What the criteria should be exactly I don’t know. Neither does Quinn. These agencies have a pretty could handle on what those criteria should be though, and I have no problem with multiple agencies using multiple sets of criteria. I don’t think that violates the Constitution on bit.

  29. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:35 pm:

    @Cheryl …other than telling them they have to play by the rules around here.

    That’s why I’m betting on a backlash to change the rule.

    Illinoisians will be Libertarian enough to let Civil Unions. They’ll find it unlibertarian to have Springfield go after Catholic Charities over this one.

  30. - JN - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:42 pm:

    == Some of you anti-theocrats… ==

    Frankly, I am drawn to this clause:

    – No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship against his consent… –

    The citizens of Illinois are required to pay taxes, and as a consequence are currently required to support Catholic Charities. However, that group bases its policy decisions on religious doctrine. So, am I actually required to pay taxes? Some lawyer will eventually argue that paying or not paying taxes is a religious choice.

  31. - walkinfool - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 3:49 pm:

    Thanks Liberty. You just confirmed that the Illinois position on this issue is fully consistent with the constitution,since none of the rights listed are being denied in any way.

  32. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 4:05 pm:

    @JN This slices both ways The citizens of Illinois are required to pay taxes, and as a consequence are currently required to support Catholic Charities.

    Consider Dr. Berwick telling Indiana tax payers they need to fund Planned Parenthood.

    Less government almost always better, and this a nice example of Quinn and Illinois Childrent being left far better off with a multiple number or organizations using different placement criteria with outcomes being the only judgement.

  33. - The Horse - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 4:12 pm:

    Its interesting 2 me that Quinn has chosen this battle to pick a fight with the church. IMHO it clearly flies in the face of the fact of the religious exclusion that I thought was in the law. and any transition will likely hurt the kids being served.

    ps plz don’t ban me for my spelling or punctuation or that I dont use caps lol

  34. - Louis G. Atsaves - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 4:43 pm:

    Is it me or does it sound like the State and other social agencies involved in these matters aren’t really all that well prepared to fill the void that Catholic Charities will leave behind?

  35. - Demoralized - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 5:13 pm:

    ==Some of you anti-relegionists ought to read the Illinois constitution which is a higher law than acts of the legislature.==

    First of all, I’m not sure what an anti-relegionist is. I’m assuming that is a typo. Those of us that argue against the stance of Catholic Charities and others are not anti-religion. They are free to do what they wish. But if they are going to use public funds then they must comply with the law. They can perform their services privately and discriminate all they want. The state isn’t preventing them from engaging in adoption services, only from receiving public money to do so.

    Second, the state’s Constitution is not “higher” than Acts of the General Assembly. Unless a law is declared to be unconstitutional the law has just as much validity.

    Third, and just for the pure argument of it, would you be arguing for ALL religious adoption agencies if, for example, a Muslim agency required their adoptees to be taught the Koran or required mothers of adoptees-to-be to wear burkas? Just checking to see if this is a Christian-only argument or not.

  36. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 5:52 pm:

    Catholic Charities does a lot of good work and has a lower-than-average overhead. But the State can’t let them or any other provider make up rules about how to run a State-funded program.

    This is not about religion, it is about the State of Illinois setting a policy and contracting with providers to carry it out. If Catholic Charities does not want to get a contract, so be it.

    But please don’t pretend this has anything to do with the Catholic Church or that opposition to their stance is anti-religious or anti-clerical or anti-anthing.

  37. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 6:09 pm:

    I’m sorry to see this happen. I remember when church support was respected and governments did not blindly trump societal traditions. After forty years, the Church did not accept the ending of human live in the womb, and I doubt if the Church will accept this either. Politics like this demand citizens to choose which church they follow, and doing that is unnecessary.

    I hope there can be a compromise reached between church and state here.

  38. - Bill Baar - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 6:32 pm:

    @vm Well said. Illinois Review did an FOI on the documents behind AG Madigan’s investigation. She seems to have gone out of her way to investigate many Faith Based agencies w/o much reason.

    This smacks of a move to placate Progressives by Democrats without many cards to play with Progressives.

    Otherwise I can’t see how it makes any sense. It’s a really tragic thing to see happen to good people running Faith Based groups, not to mention the kids involved.

  39. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 6:50 pm:

    –I’m sorry to see this happen. I remember when church support was respected and governments did not blindly trump societal traditions.–

    What time was that, exactly, and where, and on what issues, specifically? Otherwise, just gas.

    With religious freedom in the United States, “church support” can cover a lot of ground across the spectrum of public policy issues. There’s church support for the institution of “sharia” in some communities. You down with that?

    Over the course of its history, the greatness of the United States has been in its progress — sometimes heartbreakingly slow, always painful — in casting aside “societal traditions” based in ignorance, bigotry, and greed. Slavery. Jim Crow. Child labor. Institutional discrimination of all kinds based on religion (especially against Catholics), gender and sexual orientation.

    It’s called progress, and like Hawk would say, “don’t stop now, boys.”

    Still, if “church support” and “societal traditions” are of the utmost importance to you, you’ll find some kindred souls in the power structures of Teheran and Riyadh.

  40. - carbaby - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 7:23 pm:

    There appear to be some naysayers that believe that there are not any agencies within the regions that can efficiently and effectively assume the management of Catholic Charities’ cases. That is simply a false belief. Need I remind people that Catholic Charities in Cook County lost it’s liability insurance coverage(a few years ago) due to a multi-million dollar lawsuit that they settled. All of those families and children had to then be divided up by many Child Welfare organizations, who also hired their staff. That transition went without much fanfare or crisis- and no one has looked back. Likewise, there have been several larger child welfare/foster care programs that have closed over the last few years due to financial issues and those cases have also been redistributed amongst us remaining players- those were much quieter demises of those organizations.
    If you don’t believe that there was already a contingency plan just waiting to go into action- you’re sadly mistaken. That plan will begin being executed tomorrow-the Deputies meet tomorrow.
    The wake up call should have happened when Cook County CC lost their contract and there was little disruption to the system. They should have also woken up to the fact that we no longer have 52,000 kids in care anymore. So the logic that DCFS “needs” you more than other agencies is quite arrogant especially in the arena we are all now working in.
    Perhaps Catholic Charities will be generous in their filing brief to also illustrate that they have not been following certain DCFS policies on servicing DCFS wards based on religious teachings/doctrines for all these years yet no one has held them accountable for that and has effectively allowed that to occur. Maybe that will be one of their arguments- why should they start now?

  41. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 7:45 pm:

    ===If you don’t believe that there was already a contingency plan just waiting to go into action- you’re sadly mistaken. That plan will begin being executed tomorrow-the Deputies meet tomorrow===

    So it’s a secret plan. Excellent. For a minute there, I thought DCFS might just be winging it. Good to know the deputies will be brought up to speed on it tomorrow.

  42. - wishbone - Monday, Jul 11, 11 @ 8:35 pm:

    ” I can accept something somewhat distasteful in consideration of the more pressing need for these children to find stable homes.”

    What if it were black people or Jewish people they were discriminating against? Would you still accept something “somewhat distasteful”?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Rauner pardons man found innocent of 1999 attack

* Illinois 72, Alabama-Birmingham 58
* Nunn sparkles in return
* MBB notebook: Morgan starting strong for Illini
* Friday's highlights: GCMS, LeRoy boys hoops to meet in finale
* Rockets overwhelmed by Fightin' Irish in title game
* Volleyball team falls in finale
* Arcola routs Stark County for 1A football crown
* Football state championships notes: Arcola's win particularly special
* HS Football: Arcola returns to homecoming
* HS Football: Unity vs. Bishop McNamara Class 3A Championship

* Seguin scores in shootout and Stars beat Canucks 3-2
* 3 die in single-car crash in McHenry County area
* Air pollution in Beijing hits hazardous levels
* Barkov's shootout goal gives Panthers 3-2 win over Islanders
* Westminster Christian knocks off St. Edward

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Letter: Sen. Durbin is right on refugee is......

* Opinion: Sen. Kirk must stand with crimina......

* RLC Roundup: Drivers Aim Lawsuit At Tinley Park Red Light Cameras
* Dueling pair of children being used to fight for attention of Chicago, world
* No Positive Loitering Tonight
* Fairness.
* It brings out the rats.
* If we are to get Goldman Sachs out of ESEA, we will have to be the ones to do it.
* Black Friday on North Michigan Avenue.
* Does America need a "council of elders"?
* Snow Money
* There's Snow Business

* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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