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Will Illinois Finally Stop Giving Tax Dollars To Christian Foster Care Agencies That Refuse Gay Parents?

Just days after learning Britain has banned a Christian couple, who refused to agree to tell any children in their care that homosexuality is okay, from becoming foster parents comes news from Illinois that the state will begin investigating any foster service (that receives state funds) discriminating against potential parents on the basis of sexual orientation. Go get ’em!

If they are found in violation, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Catholic Charities in five regions and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency will have to license openly gay foster parents or lose millions of state dollars, potentially disrupting more than 3,000 foster children in their care. Though Illinois legislators championing the civil unions bill earlier this year insisted that religious institutions would not be forced to bless same-sex unions, it said nothing about same-sex parents. Now, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Gov. Pat Quinn’s legal team and the Department of Child and Family Services are carefully researching the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Civil Unions Bill or the Illinois Constitution to determine whether they prohibit agencies from considering sexual orientation a factor in foster care and adoption. In Illinois, all adults who adopt or become foster care providers must obtain foster care licenses.

[…] Though the civil unions legislation factors into the inquiry, the issue came to light months earlier when Lutheran Child and Family Services turned away a gay male couple when they tried to become mentors for a gay runaway in the Lutheran agency’s care. The policies of Lutheran Child and Family Services, which is affiliated with the conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, preclude “developing or licensing foster care families who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning.” The policy reflects the conservative doctrine and teaching of the Missouri Synod Lutheran denomination, which in 2006 issued a proclamation that said placing adoptive or foster children in a household with gay parents would violate church teachings. Officials at several of the religious agencies at the center of the state’s investigation argue that they are shielded by an executive order signed by President Barack Obama last November ensuring that faith-based organizations can provide social services with federal funds without sacrificing their “religious character.”

Alas, if the executive order refers only to federal funds, then they’re shit out of luck. As they should be: No private agency, no matter how much good they do or what religious teachings they subscribe to, should receive taxpayer dollars to carry out a discriminatory mission. There are plenty of secular, non-discriminating foster care agencies that would kill for the cash these faith-based groups receive. Give the money to them.

FWIW, on its website Lutheran Child and Family Services asks potential foster parents only:

• Are you at least 21 years old?
• Are you willing to submit to a criminal background check?
• Are you financially able to care for yourself and your own family?
• Are you in good health?
• Do you love children?
• Are you able to meet the demands of children on a 24-hour basis?

Nothing there about: “Are you sexually attracted to the same sex?” But if those are their rules, stop giving them the tax dollars paid by gay Illinoisans.