(Springfield, IL) – March 23, 2012. The Illinois Senate Executive Subcommittee on Civil Rights voted down on Friday a Republican plan that would have allowed Illinois adoption agencies to refuse to serve same-sex couples seeking to adopt children.
The subcommittee vote two to one against the measure, Senate Bill 2495, that would have permitted Catholic Charities of Illinois and other religious-based institutions to refer same-sex couples to other adoption agencies for services.
The Senate panel’s vote against the legislation, sponsored by State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) and 24 other senators, won immediate applause from a House lawmaker in Chicago.
“As an adoptee, I am a strong believer in adoption and the wonderful families it can create,” said State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago). “Today’s vote was an important milestone for all Illinois families and communities.”
Subcommittee Democrats Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) voted against McCarter’s bill. Republican Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington, the failed 2010 GOP nominee for governor, voted yes.
In testimony before the subcommittee, McCarter cited Senate debate about the intent of the Civil Union Law passed in 2011, in which the sponsor of the law said the measure was not designed to restrict the liberties of faith-based organizations engaged in social service work, even when that work was performed on behalf of state government.
Catholic Charities and other religious groups lost their state contracts for adoption services once legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn.
Illinois Republicans have launched multiple attempts to reinstate the Catholic Charities contracts by carving out a religious exemption, noted a gay rights advocate.
“This bill has been brought up multiple times over the course of a year and a half in both houses of the General Assembly,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda.
Williams, a first-term lawmaker on Chicago’s north side, noted that the core issue was equality.
“Every child deserves a loving home…and whether a person can provide one has nothing to do with whether they are gay or straight,” said Williams.
The legislation is dead for the remainder of the spring legislative session.