Catholic Charities Set to Face ACLU in Gay Adoption Lawsuit

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By Stephanie Samuel, Christian Post Reporter
August 2, 2011|8:40 am

Catholic Charities will take on the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois in its lawsuit to reinstate state contracts dropped after the adoption services expressed a religious objection to Illinois' civil unions law.

In a preliminary hearing Monday, an Illinois judge allowed the ACLU to defend the state's decision to drop its contracts with the faith-based organization because it would not allow gay or co-habitating couples to adopt or care for a child.

The group asserts that the Catholic Charities' policy does significant harm to children in the custody of the state Department of Children and Family Services.

Peter Breen, executive director of the pro-life legal firm the Thomas More Society, argued that Catholics Charities “has maintained the same policies for decades on the placement of children with unmarried couples."

To assert that Catholic Charities is now suddenly not acting in the best interest of children means the civil liberties group is either "disingenuous or the ACLU has been asleep at the switch for the last 20 years," Breen, who is also acting as the legal counsel to the Catholic Charities, summed.

The ACLU also argues that Catholic Charities discriminates against same-sex couples who desire to act as foster or adoptive parents.

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However, with 40 various state-licensed adoption agencies, both secular and faith-based, and over 80 DCFS field offices, "Catholic Charities is not preventing a single parent from adopting," Breen declared. It is, he stated, fighting for the right to lawfully operate under the exemption for religious practice written into the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.

The act allows homosexual couples the right to adopt children and provide foster care while also protecting the freedoms of faith-based organizations.

"The government and the attorney general are implementing the civil union component [but] they have read out the law the religious freedom protection component," Breen explained.

Breen says the dropped contracts also violate the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he says protects against burdening activities that counters one's religious beliefs.

He told The Christian Post that Catholic Charities has a good case against both the state and ACLU.

In June, three Illinois Catholic dioceses sued the DCFS when the state agency chose not to renew its contracts with the various chapters of the faith-based adoption agency. Catholic Social Services-Diocese of Belleville also joined the lawsuit last month.

Catholic officials said that it informed the state about its religious objections before the June 1 enactment of the civil unions act and made two requests for a meeting with the state attorney general.

However, the requests were ignored, and adoption contracts were discontinued after the first without notice, according to the Thomas More Society.

The discontinued contracts pose a problem for the charities' over 2,000 foster children. A local judge has temporarily halted the state-imposed disruption in the adoption/foster care contracts.

The trial is set to begin later this month.

 

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