Following up on their threat, Catholic Charities of Rockford, IL, have voluntarily ended all their adoption and foster care services rather than comply with the civil unions law that will take effect next week. In doing so, the organization terminated $7.5 million in state contracts, fired 58 workers, and likely displaced 350 foster children. Diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert attempted to blame the government for not protecting charities’ ability to discriminate against same-sex couples:
The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion. Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion.
Echoing the opinion of some fellow freshly fired employees, Leslie Montoya said she supported the decision, suggesting it had something to do with protecting children. :
My first thought was we work so hard for the children to have stability in their lives to have permanency and this is another thing that is going to be removed from their lives. A worker they’ve been working with several months possibly a few years and that person’s just going to disappear.
But the decision had nothing to do with the children (who will do just fine with same-sex families) and nothing to do with religious liberty. It was a blatant choice to prefer discrimination and stigmatization of gays and lesbians over the ability to do important, charitable work.
This is only the latest example of how out of touch Church leaders are with its members. A March poll from the Public Religion Research Institute demonstrated that Catholics overwhelmingly support marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples (74 percent), but that number has been consistently over 60 percent since at least 2008. In Rhode Island, 63 percent of Catholics support full marriage equality, but Church leaders have been instrumental in holding back the progress of legislation there.