The state of Illinois is about to throw the foster care system in chaos because a large provider - Catholic Charities - opposes placing children with same sex couples.
The 2200 children placed by Catholic Charities will now be transferred to other social welfare agencies. The state says they will try to keep the kids with the same foster parents, but there are no guarantees that this will occur during the transition.
Since March, state officials have been investigating whether religious agencies that receive public funds to license foster care parents are breaking anti-discrimination laws if they turn away openly gay parents.
In discussions after the civil union bill went into effect in June, Catholic Charities told the state that accommodating prospective foster parents in civil unions would violate Catholic Church teaching that defines marriage between a man and a woman.
Pointing to a clause in the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act that they believe protects religious institutions that don't recognize civil unions, the agencies said they would refer those couples elsewhere and only license married couples and single parents living alone.
But lawyers for the Illinois attorney general said that exemption only shields religious clergy who don't want to officiate at civil unions. The policy of Catholic Charities violates state anti-discrimination laws that demand couples in civil unions be treated the same as married couples, they said.
It's not good enough that Catholic Charities does an outstanding job in placing kids with decent couples who often adopt the children in their charge. What matters is that gay couples have an opportunity to be foster parents.
When the welfare of children takes second place to the very small number of gay couples who would actually want to go through Catholic Charities in the first place to become foster partents, you know that things are royally screwed up in Illinois.