Vriezen: The extremes of avoiding gay adoption

Claire Vriezen

On June 1, an Illinois law will go into effect allowing same sex couples to enter into civil unions. Rights regarding hospital visitation, medical decisions, adoption, benefits and inheritance will be extended to both homosexual and heterosexual partners.

Of course, there are people in the state that are quite unhappy with this new law. This is unsurprising, given the controversial nature of the issue and the strong opinions of many groups. Though many voiced dissent, a Catholic adoption agency in Rockford, Ill. seems to have gone to extremes. The group, Catholic Charities of Rockford, would rather shut down than place children in the care of gay parents.

The rationale? Well, like many adoption agencies, Catholic Charities of Rockford receives funding from the state. Which means that it could face trouble if it was found to be discriminating against gay couples looking to adopt. The agency must abide by state laws regarding discrimination if it is to continue receiving state funding. The agency may consider a change of heart, so long as an amendment is passed that allows it to refer couples in civil unions to other agencies. Until then, the fates of about 350 foster children and 58 employees hang in the balance.

In a society that is becoming increasingly accepting of homosexuality, it surprises me that an adoption agency announced its closure for fear of having to place children in the care of gay parents. Yes, historically, religious organizations and gay individuals haven’t been on the best of terms. Yet it would seem that to this particular agency, its reluctance to engage in “activity offensive to the moral teachings of the church” overrides the desire to minister to the needs of orphans and foster children.

While those involved in foster care situations will likely try to maintain the current placement of children, the transition may still cause many to be shuffled around the foster care system again.

I hope a secular group that is far less picky about the orientation of prospective parents will be able to find homes and love for those waiting for families.

One could argue that discrimination against homosexuals by religious groups usually only hurts homosexuals directly (if we use very loose terms, that is). This particular act of discrimination (or rather, the inability to legally discriminate) is directly affecting employees and children alike.

For gay and lesbian couples that will soon enter into civil unions in Illinois, adoption is an option that many will turn to when looking to form a family. The actions of this particular agency make me wonder how many other faith-based organizations will try to avoid placing children in the care of gay parents. What other groups will put an anti-gay ideology before providing children with a family?