Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Illinois severs ties with anti-gay Catholic foster agency [updated]

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Catholic Charities of Illinois logo
Catholic Charities of Illinois logo

After a series of Illinois Catholic foster groups chose to end their services rather than abide by anti-discrimination laws forbidding them from limiting their foster parent choices to heterosexual couples once the state’s civil unions law went into effect, the state has now moved to sever ties with these agencies altogether:

The state has declined to renew its foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities across Illinois, possibly ending a historic partnership initiated by the Roman Catholic Church a half-century ago and potentially severing the relationship between nearly 2,000 foster children and their caseworkers.

Though four Catholic Charities agencies had already stopped licensing new foster parents, three of them will seek an injunction from a Sangamon County judge on Tuesday to continue serving families and abiding by Catholic principles that prohibit placing children with unmarried cohabiting couples.

“We’re not sure what the state is intending to do or how it’s intending to do it,” said Peter Breen, an attorney with the Thomas More Society representing Catholic Charities. “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.”

In letters sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the state could not accept their signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year. Each letter said funding was declined because “your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples.

“That law applies to foster care and adoption services,” each letter stated. “Thus, there is no meeting of the minds as to the (fiscal year 2012) Foster Care and Adoption Contracts.”

It’s so sad that it’s come to this, but the state itself cannot be faulted for letting these bigoted groups go. The law is the law, and if Catholic Charities prefers to stick to their homophobic ideology rather than do the right thing and place children in the loving homes of same-sex couples, then Illinois did the right thing in ending their contracts. Either you obey state law and prevent discrimination when it comes to needy children, or you don’t and pay the price. The real tragedy here (never mind the archaic Bible-thumpers at Catholic Charities) is that, as usual, innocent victims are caught in the crossfire.

Of course, you can still rely on spokespeople for the group to bring up tired old excuses:

“If the restraining order is not granted, we have other alternatives,” said Glenn Van Cura, director of Catholic Charities in Joliet, who received the state’s letter Monday morning. “There is nothing more important on my docket right now. It’s so important for the kids we have under our care.”

Oh, shut up. You’ve made it abundantly clear that the children in your charge are not your number one issue. If it were, you would only be happy to place their well-being above your anti-gay zealotry and follow state law. But you care far more about your wretched religious beliefs than you ever will about the innocents who depend on your services, and no amount of pandering blather will ever absolve you of being discriminatory asshats.

The only thing more egregious than these assholes refusing to care about children above their own prejudice is when they then dare to play the victim once they’ve been called out on it.

(via Joe. My. God.)

UPDATE: (07/14/11 7:35 PM) – An Illinois judge has temporarily reinstated state contracts with Catholic Charities.