Yesterday, attorneys for the two remaining Catholic Charities agencies involved in a lawsuit against the State of Illinois, seeking to reverse a decision by the Department of Children and Family Services to end its contractual relationship with these agencies to provide state-funded foster care and adoption services, announced that they would end the litigation. The Catholic Charities agencies refused to provide services to lesbian and gay male couples, including couples who have a civil union under Illinois’ new law.
The following can be attributed to Benjamin Wolf, Associate Legal Director for the ACLU of Illinois:
We intervened in this case, to insure that only the best interests of children in DCFS care, and not the contrary religious values of private care providers, guide all foster care and adoption placements, a standard long recognized by professional child welfare experts. Children in Illinois are best served when there are as many and as diverse placement opportunities as possible. There is no child welfare basis to exclude gay people from being parents, as recognized by every major child welfare group. All children, in every region of Illinois, deserve the widest possible pool of qualified parents.
We hope the end of this suit and the transfer of children to agencies that do not discriminate marks a significant milestone in our state’s effort to create a first class child welfare system that serves all children and families in Illinois.
We believe that Catholic Charities has acted in the best interest of the children who are in the state’s care by dropping its case challenging Illinois’ policy of prohibiting discrimination against gay and lesbian parents in the provision of foster care and adoption services. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services now can focus on finding safe, permanent homes for children in its care without disruption and further conflict.