Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville) introduced an amendment to the civil unions law today that would ensure religious child welfare agencies can turn away committed same-sex couples who want to adopt children or provide foster homes.
Kay could not be reached for comment. But Sen. William R. Haine (D-Alton) said he would support the amendment if it makes it to the Senate floor. Though there is a sense of urgency with the civil unions law going into effect on June 1, he said he did not introduce it himself because of the tight legislative calendar.
Illinois officials are investigating whether religious agencies that receive public money to license foster care and adoptive parents are breaking anti-discrimination laws if they turn away potential parents who are openly gay.
If they are found in violation, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities in five regions outside Chicago, and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency will have to license openly gay foster parents or lose millions of state dollars, potentially disrupting thousands of foster children in their care.
Gay rights activist Rick Garcia, a leading proponent of the Illinois Civil Union bill, denounced the amendment as an attempt to uphold anti-gay sentiment at the expense of children.
“If Catholic Charities and Lutheran (Missouri Synod) Child Family Services want to discriminate against gay people fine, but they should not be allowed to do so on the tax dollars of Illinoisans,“ Garcia said. “They can’t have it both ways –- acting as an agent of the state and being a religious institution exempt from state law. If they feel so strongly about this let them give up the millions in state money.”