* 11:53 am - Sen. Dave Koehler’s bill to allow religious organizations to refuse to offer adoption and foster care services to couple who’ve received civil unions just went down to defeat in the Senate Executive Committee. Stay tuned.
*** UPDATE *** From the Catholic Conference of Illinois…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
“Lawmakers are obviously engaged in this issue. We will continue to seek a resolution that allows Catholic Charities to serve thousands of abused and neglected children in Illinois, and we are hopeful that resolution will be supported moving forward,” said Robert Gilligan, Executive Director, Catholic Conference of Illinois.
“This legislation allows Catholic Charities to operate within Church teachings, within the law and always with the best interest of the child at the forefront. Those in civil unions will not be prevented from becoming foster or adoptive parents. From Catholic Charities, they will be referred to DCFS or to one of the approximately 50 other private child welfare agencies throughout the state. Our agencies serve thousands of abused and neglected children in Illinois and are constantly rated a top performer by DCFS in providing permanency, stable foster homes and protection from further harm. We simply want to continue.”
* We went over this topic yesterday, but here’s a bit of the coverage from earlier today. Tribune…
Gay adoptions emerged Tuesday at the center of a Capitol culture clash as lawmakers pushed a measure to ensure faith-based groups could turn away committed same-sex couples who want to adopt children or provide foster homes.
Opponents say it’s a direct assault on Illinois’ new civil union law, which takes effect June 1. And some fear children will lose opportunities to be placed in loving homes because of discrimination. […]
Sponsoring senators argue religious groups shouldn’t have to go against their beliefs when placing children for adoption. And they say it simply clarifies legally what those groups have been doing for years.
“They have a right of conscience here. They’re not going to place a child with an unmarried couple,” said Sen. William Haine, D-Alton. “It’s either that or they’re driven out of the adoption business, which (would be) a terrible loss to the children of the state.”
* The sponsor speaks…
“During the discussion of the law, I was asked a question about my intent and how the legislation would affect the other activities of religious-based groups,” [Democratic Sen. Dave Koehle] said. “I indicated that it was not my intent to make any group work against its own religious beliefs. I promised to clarify that issue with subsequent legislation. Senate Bill 1123 is that follow-up legislation. Though I know some people will find it objectionable, I feel I must keep my promise.”
Koehler added that the new proposal would require adoption agencies that refuse to serve lesbian and gay couples to provide those couples “with contact information for DCFS, which will direct the couples to agencies that do serve couples in civil unions.”
Longtime LGBT activist Rick Garcia agreed that the bill appears to stem from promises made last fall by senators who supported civil unions to carve out exemptions for religious groups. But Garcia said no one is trying to stop any religious-based or affiliated groups from discriminating if they choose to do so with their own money.
“If they want to do it on their own dime, then I don’t care what they do, but not when they’re taking your tax dollars and taking my tax dollars,” Garcia said. “If this is such a deeply held religious belief, let them pay for it.”
* More groups came out against the bill…
The Illinois Log Cabin Republicans, the largest gay Republican organization in Illinois, has joined the opposition to a Democrat-sponsored amendment that would allow discrimination against couples in civil unions when it comes to adoption and foster care.
Senate Bill 1123 would allow religious institutions the right to refuse couples in a civil unions because of its “deeply held religious beliefs.”
“This amendment reeks of retaliation against supporters of the recently passed Civil Union legislations, which in part protects and strengthens gay and lesbian families,” said Michael Carr of Log Cabin Republicans. “Supporters of this amendment are really just harming Illinois children, and these supporters should be ashamed of themselves.”