As first reported by Phil Reese, senators in Illinois are trying to sneak a provision into a bill amendment that would conceivably enable religious charities to discriminate against any couple for any reason in regards to adoption and foster care services. Same-sex couples, who were only granted civil union rights this past January, would be particularly vulnerable to this discrimination.
The original bill (SB1123) itself is a simple two-page affirmation of public accessibility for people with physical disabilities like visual impairment. The new provision, introduced by Senator David Koehler (D), appears at the very bottom of a 30-page amendment that is otherwise about fees that county clerks charge:
Sec. 65. Religious child welfare agencies. A child welfare agency that is religiously based or owned by, operated by, or affiliated with a bona fide religious organization may decline an adoption or foster family home application, including any related licensure and placement, from a party to a civil union if acceptance of that application would constitute a violation of the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs. If an agency declines an application pursuant to this Section, then it must provide the applicant with information on how to contact the Department of Children and Family Services to obtain information concerning other regional licensed child welfare agencies.
Sen. Koehler was a strong supporter of the civil unions bill, as his daughter Maggie is a partnered lesbian. During the civil unions debate, he said, “As the father of three daughters, explain to me why two of them have rights that one doesn’t have.”
Having just secured her those rights, perhaps the Senator could explain why he’s now trying to take some of them away from her again.