Four Catholic Charities regional groups have been granted the right continue their adoption and foster program services in Illinois for at least another month thanks to Judge John Schmidt's decision to refuse allowing the state to cut funds based off the organization's resistance to placing children with gay and unwed couples. Chicago Tribune:
"The judge set Aug. 15 for a full-scale hearing. In the meantime, he said, children in Catholic Charities' care will not be shifted to other social service agencies because that could risk 'irreparable injury.'
Catholic Charities argued the state's interpretation of the civil union law is discriminatory because it would require placing children with gay or unwed couples. Such an action would violate religious protections built into the law, said attorney Tom Brejcha, who represented the group."
The move comes after the state's decision two days earlier to decline renewing a five decade relationship with the organization that serves nearly 2,000 foster children and their caseworkers.
“It’s a surprise. But it’s also very disturbing. The impact on the [nearly 2,000] children in Catholic Charities care will be catastrophic,” said a lawyer representing the Catholic Charities to the Chicago Tribune Monday.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services rejected renewing contracts with the Catholic Charities in the diocese of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield along with the Catholic Social Services of Illinois because "your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act."
The Act was passed in January and took effect June 1. The law says agencies who receive state money must treat people in civil unions as they would married couples. Catholic Charities has not asked to overturn the law but rather protective legislation to allow them to continue their foster care and adoption services and refer unmarried, cohabiting couples, whether same-sex or opposite sex, to other agencies so as to not violate their religious beliefs. Their request was voted down at the end of May.
The move to cut funding to Catholic Charities is backed by Illinois Governor and self-proclaimed practicing Catholic Pat Quinn. The Democratic governor said Monday:
"We have a law in Illinois and that is the law. We have other entities that are involved in foster care that are willing to assume that duty and that opportunity."
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Catholic Charities has more than 3,000 children in their foster and adoption services across the state. Representing 20 percent of all Illinois adoption and foster-care services, the state pays Catholic Charities $30 million annually for its services.