New Civil Unions Law Already Infringing on Religious Freedom

From Lake County Right to Life…

(Grayslake, IL – June 2, 2011) Illinois’ Civil Unions law went into effect June 1, and even State Sen. David Koehler, sponsor of the bill in the senate, is frustrated with its repercussions to religious freedom. Koehler made it clear that the law, ironically named “The Religious Freedom Protection Act and Civil Union Act,” was intended to protect the rights of social service organizations, including adoption agencies, to carry out their duties according to their faith.

But months ago, activists began challenging the ability of religious childcare agencies to prohibit the placement of children with same-sex couples, so Sen. Koehler proposed a religious exemption amendment to protect the rights of these agencies. Despite lobbying by Catholic Charities and other organizations, the amendment was defeated in the Senate Executive Committee.

Last Thursday, Catholic Charities in Rockford announced that “Because of this failure and the anticipated legal challenges it will present to our free exercise of religion, the Diocese or Rockford is forced to permanently discontinue all state funded adoption and foster care operations as of June 1, 2011.”

The challenge began after a same-sex couple’s attempted adoption through Lutheran Children and Family Services in Chicago was denied. This moved DCFS to confer with gay advocates in concert with the governor’s and attorney general’s offices to “begin to resolve the legal issues” with Lutheran Children and Family Services, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency. The expected result of these conversations will be a choice for the adoption agencies to change their policies or lose state funding.

Attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society (who will be the featured speaker at Lake County Right to Life’s September 24 educational forum) believes that Catholic Charities and other religious adoption agencies should be protected because sectarian adoption agencies are not on the list of places where non-discrimination laws apply. However, attorneys for the ACLU contend that the law’s religious exemptions are meant to apply only to “core religious functions” (e.g. weddings) and not contracts with the state.

Lake County Right to Life opposes the Civil Unions law and supports any effort to repeal it. Lake County Right to Life also supports the effort to place a referendum defining traditional marriage on the 2012 ballot.

About Lake County Right to Life

Established in 1973 and headquartered in Grayslake, Lake County Right to Life is an educational and advocacy organization for the protection of innocent human life. The organization works in Lake County to promote the vision of a society in which all human life is respected, protected and secure.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001