Downstate Republican lawmakers push for civil union exceptions

Rep. Dwight Kay. Photo: Dwight Kay.

A Southern Illinois lawmaker is leading another attempt to add adoption exceptions to the state’s civil unions act, which if passed, would allow religious institutions the ability to deny adoptions to couples in civil unions.

Rep. Dwight Kay (112th District) of Edwardsville filed the bill in the state general assembly Jan. 10, making it the fifth bill of its kind to be filed in the last year, according to Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Randy Hannig, Jr.

“Catholic Charities has gone through the courts and the courts have said ‘no,'” said Hannig. “The governor said that there’s no way that any adoption services will discriminate against same-sex couples. You’d think that when all three branches of government disagree with you, you’d give up.”

Currently, under the Illinois Religious Freedom and Civil Unions act, all benefits afforded to people united in a marriage are also afforded to those who are in a civil union, including the right to adopt. The new law requires that all agencies receiving state funds use one standard for placing children: What is best for the child, according to Hannig.

“What is in the best interest of the child?” he said. “Not their biased criteria.”

The bill is summarized on the Illinois General Assembly website, which states that, “… a child welfare agency that is religiously based or owned by, operated by, or affiliated with a bona fide religious organization may decline an adoption or foster family home application, including any related licensure and placement, from a party to a civil union if acceptance of that application would constitute a violation of the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs …”

So far, Rep. David Reis (108th District) and Rep. Paul Evans (102nd District) have been added as chief co-sponsors.

Hannig doesn’t see the bill going any further.

“Obviously, this governor won’t sign the bill if it even makes it to his desk,” he said.

A call made to Kay’s office was not immediately returned.