Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Illinois Governor Pat Quinn needs to say to Catholic adoption agencies

Last month, a new law went into effect in Illinois that legalized civil-unions between same sex partners and granted them the same legal rights as ‘traditional’ marriages. The bill lists some of the legal protections these new couples will have, including the same right to adoption services that married couples currently have. However, some Catholic adoption organizations are still refusing to help same-sex couples and are in violation of the new law. This has forced Governor Pat Quinn to not renew the state foster care and adoption contracts held by some these groups, and they have struck back with lawsuits saying that adoption is “part of [their] church’s mission,” and they should be exempt from the provision.

Canceling these contracts was the right thing for the governor to do, but the next time he’s asked about these groups he should have a solid response prepared. The last time he responded to a question about these groups he said, “They made a choice... they have a law in Illinois. It’s the civil unions law. I signed it into law. We’re not going back.”

Instead, I think he should say something more similar to this:

“I respect the right of people in these organizations to believe what they want about homosexuality. They have that first amendment protection. But I reject the argument that this religious freedom automatically grants these groups the privilege of running adoption services, or that the state of Illinois can’t impose guidelines on what activities we are willing to fund. These groups will have to make a decision about which they believe to be a greater threat to their morality: same-sex couples raising children, or children growing up without homes.

If we change the subject of this discrimination to any other protected class, the absurdity and prejudice motivating this legal challenge is readily apparent. What if a group said that they wouldn’t allow black families to adopt? Or naturalized citizens? Or, what if someone said that their religion forced them to use state money to discriminate against Catholics? I think if that were the discussion, some of these groups would find themselves opposing the arguments they make today.

I ask the members of these groups to think about the children they mean to help. Different studies say that up to 10% of these children will at some point realize they are attracted to people of their same sex. Is an organization that believes homosexuals should be treated as second class citizens really a loving and nurturing place for these children? Will you really be able to turn them away when they come back to the agency as adults trying to adopt, without feeling the slightest bit of shame? Maybe the people of these groups can honestly answer yes to both of these questions, but my administration and the state of Illinois cannot.

We will continue to enforce this new law, which specifically says civil-union partners are entitled to all of the same adoption services as married heterosexual couples. It will take another law passed by the legislature- which I would not support nor sign- to change my position on the matter.”


  1. The Catholic Church will never change their position on same sex marriage or civil unions. They would rather see children not be adopted then to be adopted by same sex couples. They will not compromise. They feel that they are on the side of morality. It is useless and a waste of time to argue or try to reason with them. They want public funds but they want them on their "moral" terms. Your arguments are reasonable but they take their orders from "the word of God". There are many arguments you could make as to why their position is wrong but it would fall on deaf ears. It will be a cold day in hell when the church changes their position on anything that they believes goes against "the will of God". I happen to agree strongly with you. It is a compassionate and logical viewpoint but logic is not part of the Church's vocabulary.

  2. Unfortunately, you may be right. But I think that a statement like this from the governor isn't just for the Catholic groups, but also for the people of Illinois. They need to know they have a governor that won't back down on LGBT rights in the face of religious pressure.

  3. Anything that gets kids out of the hands of institutional Catholics and far away from priests is a good thing.

  4. I agree with your answer to my post, Mr. Gill. However, some people just don't realize how powerful and persuasive the church can be by using threats and intimidation. They also have tons of money and lots of attorneys. Pretty frightening!