Wonderful news! Foster children in Illinois will continue to be placed in safe, loving homes based on their individual best interests - not the religious tenets of the foster care agency.

We received word late yesterday that Catholic Charities dioceses of Springfield and Joliet are voluntarily dismissing their lawsuit seeking to force the State of Illinois to enter contracts for foster care services even though they violated the law by refusing to place foster children in homes headed by gay or lesbian couples.

The ACLU of Illinois intervened in the suit, Catholic Charities v. Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), to defend the rights of children in the care of DCFS, as well as the interests of a lesbian couple with a civil union who plan to become foster parents.

We know this fight is not yet over - legislators have already filed ill-conceived proposals for the 2012 session seeking to permit religious foster care agencies to discriminate against couples with civil unions.

But for today - the children in the care of DCFS will be placed in the best homes available, and qualified lesbian and gay couples with civil unions will not be discriminated against by state contractors. It is a victory worth celebrating.