Friday, May 27, 2011

Catholic Charities of Rockford, IL Would Rather Close Than Allow Gays to Foster Kids

Gay Couple with childImage via WikipediaEarlier this year Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act into law, making it legal for same-sex couples to enter into a "Marriage Light" arrangement, while protecting the rights of churches to choose not to recognize them.

However, the law, which goes into effect June 1, also says that if an organization receives state funding, they cannot discriminate against the gays in adoptions or foster care.

This last bit has pissed of the Rockford, IL branch of Catholic Charities so much, that they would rather leave children homeless than allow them to be placed in the homes of loving gay and lesbian couples, just like their cousins in DC did.

The Huffington Post reports:
When the law was passed, Catholic Charities and other religious and conservative groups pushed for an amendment that would allow faith-based organizations to "decline an adoption or foster family home application" to a couple in a civil union if "if acceptance of that application would constitute a violation of the organization's sincerely held religious beliefs." A Senate committee voted down the amendment in April, and a House committee did the same this week.
"The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion," Penny Wiegert, the Rockford Diocese's director of communication said in a statement. "Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion. We simply can not compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality, professional services to families by letting our state define our religious teachings."
Catholic Charities of Rockford handles about 350 foster family and adoption cases, according to the Rockford Archdiocese. They work with 11 counties in northern Illinois and have a state budget of $7.5 million. Today, the Diocese announced that they would transition out of their current contracts and terminate 58 employees when they drop the program.
Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Civil Rights Agenda, said this is a "sad day" for the foster families and parents involved with Catholic Charities.
"This is a sad display of bigotry by Catholic Charities, and their bigotry will now be harming children in their care," Martinez said in a statement. "It is equally sad that they would invoke 'Freedom of Religion' as they make this announcement. That freedom is granted only when the religious agency is not funded by taxpayer dollars, and they are well aware of that."
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