Catholic Charities sues state over adoption and foster care practices
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org June 7, 2011 2:44PM
Updated: September 29, 2011 12:51AM
JOLIET — Catholic Charities in Joliet and two other dioceses filed a lawsuit today to protect their practice of not placing children for adoption and foster care in the homes of unmarried couples.
A news release announcing the legal action said the new civil union law that took effect last week “raised further questions and criticism” about the practice.
“Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois,” Thomas Brejcha said in the written announcement of the lawsuit. Brejcha is with the Thomas More Society, which is representing Catholic Charities.
The Thomas More Society also released a March 8 letter from the Illinois Attorney General to Catholic Charities in Springfield suggesting that refusing to provide foster care services “based on the marital status or sexual orientation of a potential foster or adoptive parent” is discriminatory.
Catholic Charities in Joliet, Peoria and Springfield are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court against the Illinois Attorney General and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Last week, Catholic Charities in Joliet and Peoria notified the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services that they would temporarily suspend licensing of parents for adoption and foster care dioceses as of June 1, the date the civil union law went into effect. On May 26, Catholic Charities in Rockford notified DCFS that it would stop providing adoption and foster care services as of June 1.
The lawsuit seeks a ruling that Catholic Charities’ adoption and foster care practices comply with Illinois law and also asks for an injunction to protect the organizations from legal action by the state.
“The charities ask the court to declare that they are legally justified to continue their current practices of working only with married couples and single, noncohabiting individuals,” said the statement announcing the lawsuit. “Civil union couples are free to choose among dozens of other organizations for these services.”