Illinois Catholic Charities Seeks Exemption from Law

In response to the passage of civil unions in Illinois, Catholic
Charities of Illinois has filed a complaint stating that the law
would require them to provide adoption services to same-sex couples
in civil unions, violating Catholic Charities’ right to religious
freedom. The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union
Act states that couples in civil unions must be treated the same as
married couples in the application of all state laws and

Catholic Charities may be misrepresenting the law. Before the civil
union bill was passed, the Illinois Human Rights law prevented
discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual
orientation and marital status (in addition to race, ethnicity,
religion, and other bases). Catholic Charities argues that the
act’s language was intended to exempt them all along; the act
states that any “non-sectarian adoption agency” must comply,
and Catholic Charities argues that they are a sectarian adoption
agency, and exempted from the act.

There are a number of potential ultimate outcomes of this case,
which would affect LGBT families in different ways. If the case
proceeds, the following outcomes are possible:

1) Catholic Charities must comply with the law and provide services
to same- and different-sex couples alike, regardless of whether or
not Catholic Charities works directly with the state;

2) Catholic Charities must either comply with the law, or stop
working directly with the state and no longer receive referrals
from them;


3) Catholic Charities is exempt from nondiscrimination requirements
as a religious organization.

The first two potential outcomes would be beneficial for our
families because Catholic Charities would either have to follow the
law, or work strictly in the private context – receiving no
referrals (and therefore no public funding) from the state.  The
third possible outcome would allow an organization that
discriminates against our families to continue to receive referrals
and funding from the state of Illinois, which would be detrimental
to the interests of all families and children in need of forever

As far as we can tell, this case is the first of its kind and,
regardless of the outcome, our families will feel the impact.
Family Equality Council will continue to monitor the case and will
provide periodic updates right here on our blog. In the meantime,
we all can continue to raise awareness about LGBT parenting and
work to ensure that all qualified, loving and stable homes –
regardless of sexual orientation or marital status – are open to
children in the foster care system.  Every child deserves a