Updated: July 13, 2011 2:13AM
Sometimes Gov. Pat Quinn gets it just right.
Quinn this week refused to back down on an issue of gay rights, offering a plain-spoken defense of Illinois’ new civil union law.
First, he refused to renew contracts with four Catholic Charities agencies after they said they wouldn’t license same-sex couples who want to become foster or adoptive parents, as the new law requires. Then, Quinn stood behind his decision publicly.
“They have a law in Illinois. It’s the civil unions law,” Quinn said. “We’re not going back. Any organization that decides because of the civil unions law that they won’t participate voluntarily in a program, that’s their choice.”
The decision to terminate contracts in Joliet, Peoria, Springfield and Belleville couldn’t have been easy for Quinn, a Catholic, but it’s the right thing to do.
While acknowledging the challenges, the Department of Children and Family Services says existing agencies can pick up the 2,000 foster care cases handled by the four agencies, citing the state’s rich network of child-welfare agencies. Catholic Charities of Peoria agreed, though it noted compelling research about the value of maintaining just one case manager for a child in foster care.
No one is diminishing the risks here. These are real children in need of stable, loving families.
That’s in part why three of the Catholic Charities agencies sued the state, winning a first victory in court Tuesday in their quest to continue services for non-homosexual couples only. But it’s also why Quinn backed the civil union law in the first place — an acknowledgement that gay couples deserve the same right to build loving families as any other couple.