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SCOTUS decision on same-sex adoption could restart issue in Illinois

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The Supreme Court decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia could spark the issue in Illinois.

In the decision last week, the court ruled for Catholic Social Services because Philadelphia’s rules did allow for an exemption, not necessarily that the city could end the contract over the agency’s anti-LGBTQ policies. Some of the justices did want the decision to be more broad, however.

Capitol News Illinois reported that the decision could restart a similar case from 10 years ago in Illinois. In 2011, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) refused to renew a contract with Catholic Charities because of the same kind of anti-LGBTQ policy. They sued, but Illinois courts sided with DCFS.

“For us here in Illinois, had this decision been on the books when the state of Illinois did what it did back in 2011, the Catholic Charities would have been continuing in foster care,” Peter Breen, vice president and general counsel for the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, told the news website.

CNI reported that four of the justices, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, signed on to concurring opinions saying they would have gone even further by agreeing to review, if not strike down, the standard of deferring to governments with these kinds of contracts.

Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were all appointed by Donald Trump.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for the ACLU of Illinois, told Capital News that the exemption policy makes the Philadelphia case markedly different from the 2011 case in Illinois.

“The way in which it differs is that DCFS required every agency who provided care and adoption and foster care services through contracts with the agency to comply with all of Illinois’ non-discrimination laws,” he said. “They didn’t pick and choose on the basis of what the objection was on the part of a particular service provider.”

He told CNI that he couldn’t predict if litigation on the issue could restart in Illinois. But it would also be a mistake to revisit the issue.

“I think what’s interesting, or what’s lost in this is that there was just that recent report by the auditor general, that found DCFS and its partner agencies were failing to serve LGBTQ kids across the state, really, to the point of just not having any kind of capacity to really even identify, provide services, provide spaces and homes for them to live in where they could be affirmed,” he said. “And I think the idea of going backward in terms of allowing for gay or lesbian couples to be discriminated against in foster care or adoption really feels like a gigantic mistake in the context of what we already know.”

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