* You may have seen this story last week about the Rockford Diocese dropping adoption and foster care services because of the new civil unions law…
The Rockford Diocese announced Thursday that it would end those services rather than be forced to serve same-sex or unmarried opposite-sex couples. The agency served children and families for more than 100 years.
“It’s the moral teaching of our faith that we believe in the natural order of marriage. In order to serve our children best, we believe that they be in that kind of a family,” said Ellen Lynch, general counsel for the diocese. “This is not a judgment on whether or not they are loving or capable. We are strictly following the teachings passed down by our faith.” […]
The agency was forced to opt out of its contract with the state for adoption and foster services because legislators failed to enact an amendment to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act that would have allowed Catholic Charities to continue its practice to refer unmarried couples, whether same or opposite sex, to other agencies.
* But the conservative Thomas More Society strongly disagrees with the legal reasoning behind the decision…
“Catholic adoption agencies have no need to stop serving foster and adoption families,” said attorney Peter Breen of Chicago-based Thomas More Society. “In our view, Illinois law does not require sectarian agencies to abide by the same non-discrimination standard as non-sectarian agencies. We’re encouraging Catholic Charities adoption agencies to continue their work just as they have before.” […]
Thomas More Society attorneys argue the Illinois Human Rights Act currently does not force Illinois non-discrimination public accommodation laws on sectarian organizations, only non-sectarian groups. The Illinois Human Rights Act defines specifically where the non-discrimination laws apply, and sectarian adoption agencies are not listed. […]
Because “non-sectarian adoption agencies” are listed and sectarian are not, Breen argues that Catholic Charities may continue to operate without referring for fostering or adoption same sex or opposite sex couples whose partnerships are not considered marriage by the church’s definition.
* Whatever happens, the kids will apparently be cared for…
Transitions like this have happened in the past, and other agencies are expected to step up to support the children and families served by Catholic Charities, officials with Children’s Home + Aid Society and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois said. Each agency serves families that are married or unmarried, including gay and lesbian partners.
“We’re sad to lose the partnership with Catholic Charities in this community,” said Kathy Reese, program director for Children’s Community Services of LSSI. “The foster care community here is very collaborative … if we’re called upon to be of help with this situation, we’ll stand ready to work with Department of Children and Family Services in any way that it’s deemed appropriate.”