The ACLU of Illinois alongside Illinois Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and other activists came together to stop a bill in the Illinois Senate last week that would have permitted adoption agencies with religious affiliations to discriminate against prospective parents, according to an article in Monday.

“It was a nasty bill,” Steans said.

ACLU Legislative Director Mary Dixon was one of the activists that alerted Steans of the damaging bill, causing the lawmaker to forcefully block SB 1993 when it came up before the Illinois Senate Human Services Committee. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga), lost on a 4-4 vote, with one member not voting.

“It was really disturbing,” Dixon said. “The goal was to codify discrimination into law.”

According to the article, agencies connected with religious groups frequently offer adoption and foster services, and the religious preferences of the biological mother, if known, are taken into consideration when children are placed into homes. Cultra's bill provided that an agency could choose to place children with parents deemed to “hold the same religious beliefs” as the agency, excluding others.

“That's religious discrimination,” Dixon said. “That's not allowed under our constitution.”