Huffpost Chicago

Illinois Catholic Conference Launches 'Defense Of Marriage' Department

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CATHOLIC CONFERENCE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE
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This week, a judge once again shot down an appeal by Catholic Charities, which wants to continue handling adoptions and foster care applications in Illinois while refusing to place children with same-sex or unmarried couples. The state decided to end its contract with the charity--and now Catholics are fighting back against the "gay agenda" in Illinois.

As the Windy City Times reported Wednesday, the Catholic Conference of Illinois (CCI) recently announced the formation of a Defense of Marriage department, which will fight any attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the state and work to protect the "stature of the nuclear family – which provides love, stability and confidence to children, as well as organization to society."

In a news release, the CCI acknowledged that the Defense of Marriage department would be fighting "an uphill battle against current societal trends," and that the "teachings of the Church are not overwhelmingly popular everywhere."

CCI’s Director of Government Relations Zach Wichman went on to warn Catholics about the alleged dangers of same-sex marriage.

“The effects are evident in the performance of children in school, in truancy and crime rates, and in an ailing culture that too often values feeling good over self-giving, and individuality over the common good,” Wichmann said in a release. He also said that attempts to "redefine" marriage would have "negative consequences to society, public ministry and children.”

In an interview with Gay Chicago News, Rep. Greg Harris, who introduced the civil unions bill which later became law, said now is not the time for LGBT advocates to "rest on our laurels." He also slammed the CCI for inking gay marriage to social ills.

“They talk about crime, truancy and the effects on public schools, as if gay and lesbian couples in loving relationships have anything to do with those things,” Harris told Gay Chicago. “There are still a number of red herrings being tossed out there.”

Despite the red herrings, Windy City Times spoke with an LGBT rights advocate who said this new push by the Catholic lobby should be taken seriously:

Rev. Cindi Love, the executive director of Soulforce, which advocates against religious oppression of LGBT people, warned that LGBT activists in Illinois should be on guard.

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Love said that a similar strategy was effective in California's passage of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage. She added that local Defense of Marriage departments in organizations form national and international alliances that make them both powerful and well-funded.

Money might be one reason the Catholic lobby is fighting so hard against the Department of Children and Family Service's decision to end its contract with them. As the Associated Press reported late last week, Catholic Charities stands to lose $5 million of their projected $10 million in revenue for the 2012 budget year if the foster and adoption contracts are eliminated.

"Organizations that receive taxpayer funding to provide public services must comply with the law," Robyn Ziegler, a spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General's Office told HuffPost Chicago over the summer. "Unfortunately, instead of working with the state to ensure compliance with child protection and civil rights laws, the dioceses have opted to go to court.”

Rep. Harris said that if the organization wants state money, it needs to follow state anti-discrimination laws.

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