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State Resumes Referring Adoption Cases To Catholic Charities

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The state has resumed referring foster care cases to Catholic Charities, as a court battle continues over the right to turn away same-sex couples in civil unions.

Attorneys for Catholic Charities said Monday that attorneys for the state Attorney General's office announced in court that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would resume referring foster care cases to the religious adoption agency.

Catholic Charities in Springfield, Peoria and Joliet have been suing to forbid enforcement of a law that would forbid them from turning away same-sex couples when placing wards of the state.

The state later decided not to renew its adoption contract with the agency.

But attorneys for the agency say they issued an emergency filing pointing out that when Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Catholic Charities, he said the relationship between the agency and the state had to remain as it had prior to the June 30 contract expiration.

Thus, the state was obligated to continue referring cases to the agency, attorneys said.

The Illinois Attorney General's Office had previously said Catholic Charities, as a taxpayer funded entity, had to abide by the state's definition of a legally recognized couple.

The civil unions law, which went into effect at the beginning of last month, grants domestic partnerships with many of the same benefits of marriage to both gay and straight couples.

But attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, representing Catholic Charities disagreed. He says Catholic Charities provides adoption and foster care services to married couples and civil unions don't count as marriage.

"Catholic Charities does not make child placements with unmarried couples, same sex or opposite sex," he said last month.

Breen says the agency operates under Catholic teachings, which state marriage is defined as between one man and one woman.

Three attempts to pass legislation restrict adoption by same-sex couples have failed.

The most recent attempt was last month, when state Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) attempted to amend an ethics bill by inserting language that would allow adoption agencies affiliated with religious groups to turn away same-sex couples, Gay Chicago Magazine reported.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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