Some weeks ago a lawyer-friend of mine sent a note to say the ACLU contacted my friend looking for an attorney who a had a same-sex couple ready to sue Catholic Charities. I was surprised the ACLU hadn't already lined up such a couple.
The Tribune's poorly written and researched story follows, with my emphases and comments:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois got the go-ahead Monday to intervene in a lawsuit and join the state's battle against Catholic Charities' policy of turning away prospective parents who are in civil unions [this is a terrible article from the beginning. Catholic Charities does not place children with cohabiting couples, regardless of whether or not they are in a civil union. Where is a mention of the Relifious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act? Why is it never mentioned in this article?].
Catholic Charities in Joliet, Peoria, Springfield and Belleville filed the lawsuit this summer, asking a Sangamon County judge to uphold their policy of providing publicly funded foster care and adoption services only to married couples and single parents living alone [hence the term 'single'], while referring couples in civil unions to other agencies [what is the argument behind the suit? Why is this not mentioned?].
On Monday, the judge allowed the ACLU of Illinois to intervene after lawyers argued that allowing Catholic Charities to reject [an application or request may be declined, but no one is rejected; Catholic Charities has referred to inquirers to other agencies, of which they are many in that State] parents based on sexual orientation or religious belief violates the federal consent decree designed to improve conditions for children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services [they are not declined based on sexual orientation or religious beliefs; rather Catholic Charities acts in a manner consistent with it's own religious beliefs, as guaranteed by the First Amendment].
ACLU lawyers said the consent decree requires the state to consider nothing but the "best interests of the child," not the religious beliefs of a private foster agency, when making decisions about placement [and by not placing children with cohabiting couple Catholic Charities is considering the best interest of the children].
"Catholic Charities is ruling out possible parents based on factors that have nothing to do with the best interests of the children [study and study will disagree with this lawyer's strange logic]," said ACLU lawyer Karen Sheley.
The ACLU also intervened on behalf of Sarah Riddle and Katherine Weseman, a Champaign couple in a civil union who would like to become foster parents and adopt children [So be it. As many as fifty other agencies will help them. They are not being refused an adoption].
Riddle, 33, said that although children are not in the couple's immediate future, she and her partner are taking action to make sure the process runs smoothly when they are ready.
"It's best to make sure you have a plan in place and you're fighting for the things you believe in so when you actually need them, they're there," Riddle said. "We're making sure when we're moving forward, we're absolutely in a place where we can make it happen." [Ah, yes. Can you sense the love they have for the children they hope to adopt?]
Tom Brejcha, an attorney for the Thomas More Society who is representing Catholic Charities, said Riddle and Weseman could apply to Catholic Charities to become foster parents and would not be questioned about their sexual orientation, he said. They would be referred elsewhere only if they volunteered that information.
Brejcha questioned why the couple would go to a Catholic agency when there are many agencies that don't have religious objections to unmarried couples [a very good question, indeed].
"No one is preventing them from being foster parents if that's what they want," Brejcha said. "They don't like Catholic Charities' ideological position — a position held for 2,000 years. It doesn't make sense."
Shutting down Catholic Charities is "certainly the antithesis of serving Illinois' children who are abused and neglected," Brejcha said.
Riddle said the issue isn't her disagreement with Catholic principles [so what is the problem?].
"We would have plenty of options as parents. These are kids who don't have options," Riddle said. "We have seen the good that a good foster parent can do for children. This is very meaningful for us." [Clearly.]