CHICAGO

State-Funded Foster Care Agencies Under Review After Refusing To Let Gay Parents Adopt

03/10/2011 04:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

By Joseph Erbentraut, courtesy of the Windy City Times

While three faith-based foster care agencies receive state funding in excess of roughly $40 million annually as contractors with the state of Illinois responsible for licensing foster parents, LGBT advocates have cried foul as these agencies all have policies denying licenses to openly gay and lesbian parents.
The agencies, advocates argue, are discriminating against queer applicants on the basis of their sexual orientation, while the agencies contend they are protected by religious exemptions found in state, county and city non-discrimination law.

The issue was most recently raised to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) last fall after a gay couple living in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood attempted to adopt a 15-year-old boy, a ward of the state for seven years, through the Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS). LCFS eventually denied the couple's application despite the mens' assertion that the agency had already known about their sexual orientations for months prior to that decision.

The controversy spurred DCFS to converse with LGBT advocates in concert with the governor's office and state attorney's general office to "begin to resolve the legal issues" surrounding the gay parent-barring policies of LCFS, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency. The possible result of these conversations will likely come down to a choice for the agencies involved: Change their policy and allow for openly gay and lesbian people to be licensed as foster parents or lose state funding.

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