The ACLU of Illinois has intervened in a case challenging Catholic Charities’ policy of providing adoption and foster care services on behalf of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in a fashion that excludes unmarried couples even if they have entered into a civil union.
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Such a policy intentionally excludes all lesbian and gay couples, no matter how well qualified they are to provide loving homes for these children. We intervened because we know, based on testimony of child welfare experts, that this policy harms children in the custody of DCFS and discriminates against unmarried, especially same-sex couples, who are qualified to act as foster or adoptive parents.
The federal constitution and state law require the State of Illinois to make all decisions with regard to children in DCFS care solely on the basis of the “best interests of the child” and not the religious beliefs of a private foster agency. “Best interests”, according to experts in child welfare policy, require the State to consider only how a placement affects the child–whether the unique skills and characteristics of the potential parent or parents best fit the needs of the child resulting in a safe, loving and stable home. These Catholic Charities agencies, who have entered into contracts to perform State functions of deciding where to place the State’s wards and screening homes for foster care licenses, seek judicial authority to elevate their religious views about homosexuality and marriage over the best interests of the children under their care.