Updated to add: March 21, 2011 - Please see the story in the Windy City Times today for the latest on our work to stop this damaging bill.
Updated to Add: March, 17, 2011 - Earlier this week, this bill failed to move out of committee. Tim Bivins, Pamela J. Althoff, Darin M. LaHood and Dave Syverson voted yes on the bill. Steve Landek voted present. And Mattie Hunter, William Delgado, Terry Link and Heather A. Steans voted no.
Last week, the Chicago Tribune featured a powerful story about investigations into discrimination by state-funded religious foster care agencies against qualified lesbian and gay parents: "Benjamin Wolf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, ... said limiting the pool of prospective foster care parents because certain religious traditions believe same-sex relationships are sinful is irresponsible when children are in need."
Sen. Hunter (217) 782-5966
Sen. Delgado (217) 782-5652
Sen. Landek (217) 782-0054
Sen. Link (217) 782-8181
Sen. Steans (217) 782-8492
Sen. Bivins (217) 782-0180
Sen. Althoff (217) 782-8000
Sen. LaHood (217) 782-1942
Sen. Syverson (217) 782-5413
Senate Bill 1993 would make the situation worse (Download the Fact Sheet). It advances the interests of religious institutions, by authorizing them to impose their own religious test when evaluating whether a particular placement is in the “best interests” of a child. SB 1993 expressly authorizes an agency to reject placement with a prospective parent where he or she practices a different faith, or is an atheist or agnostic. That reduces the pool of potential adoptive parents for a child based on an agency’s religious affiliation and allows the “correct” faith for the placement (and parent) to be determined by whatever religious institution sponsors the agency handling the child’s case. It effectively treats children as religious fodder, rather than placing them with the family found to be best suited to meet each child’s individual needs.
Moreover, there is an inherent danger that the religious discrimination that would be legalized by SB 1993 will be used as a pretext for discrimination against lesbian and gay adoptive parents. As the Tribune reported, such agencies are already under investigation for discriminating against qualified gay and lesbian prospective parents.
While the religious beliefs of birth parents and children may be relevant to placement decisions, the Child Welfare Act already fully protects those interests by requiring that a child’s religion be taken into account “whenever practicable” in making certain placement decisions. SB 1993 would instead place the religious preferences of the adoption agency ahead of the interests of the families and children involved.
Encourage your legislators to OPPOSE SB 1993 - Religious discrimination by adoption agencies would undermine the best interests of children in our state. Call members of the Illinois Senate Human Services Committee and tell them vote NO.