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Bill Could Allow Catholic Charities to Continue Adoption, Foster Care Services

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 17, 2011 10:00PM

State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R - Lebanon)
We thought we'd seen the last of the DCFS/Catholic Charities battle when Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt ruled in favor of the state in cutting ties with Catholic Charities in its refusal to provide foster care and adoption services to same sex and unmarried couples, which is a violation of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.

As civics and the 24-hour news cycle have taught us, when a judge rules against you, get the law changed. That's exactly what Catholic Charities is hoping for with new legislation proposed by State Sen. Kyle McCarter. McCarter's proposal, SB2495, would amend the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act so that "a child welfare agency that is religiously based or owned by, operated by, or affiliated with a bona fide religious organization may decline an adoption or foster family home application, including any related licensure and placement, from a party to a civil union if acceptance of that application would constitute a violation of the organization's sincerely held religious beliefs and, if an agency declines an application, it must provide the applicant with information on how to contact the Department of Children and Family Services to obtain information concerning other regional licensed child welfare agencies."

So McCarter wants to amend the law so that Catholic Charities can continue to discriminate against possible foster parents because of their sexual orientation and/or don't have a marriage license. Have to give McCarter credit here: he almost managed to sugar coat the obstinacy of Catholic Charities completely.

As Schmidt noted in his August ruling, Catholic Charities history of providing adoption and foster care services doesn't warrant an automatic renewal of those services. This would seem like a basic separation of church and state issue here, but McCarter believes he has the votes necessary for SB 2495 to pass. He told the Springfiled Journal-Register

“Catholic Charities is responsible for a majority of adoptions and placements of foster kids in southern Illinois, and they do it for a fraction of the cost, and they do it with an extreme amount of compassion... (n)ot allowing (Catholic Charities) to refer these small number of cases to DCFS, we’re really missing out on the great service they provide."

Yet Catholic Charities of Peoria has already transferred its adoption and foster care services to a non-profit. Rockford Catholic Charities' adoption and foster care cases have been picked up by Youth Service Bureau of Illinois Valley. They're able to handle even the small number of cases Catholic Charities won't touch because a household may have two mommies, two daddies or a mommy and daddy living in sin.

The bill has its supporters in the Thomas More Society and opponents in Civil Rights Agenda and Equality Illinois. If other non-profits are able to step in to fill the void left by Catholic Charities the question becomes: Is Catholic Charities acting in the best interests of the children they serve? Or themselves?