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Catholic group sues state of Ill. over foster care, adoptions involving civil unions

(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A Catholic organization that licenses foster and adoptive parents has sued the state of Illinois over a new law that would require it to place children with gay or unmarried couples.

Catholic Charities claims in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that it's exempt from provisions of a state law that lets gay and straight couples form civil unions that give them many of the same rights as traditional marriage.

The organization says placing children with unmarried, cohabitating couples violates the Catholic faith, and it wants to be allowed to refer unmarried or gay couples to other agencies, as it's done for years.

The Chicago Tribune explains further the process that led to the lawsuit:

In March, the attorney general’s office issued a letter stating that the office “received notice that Catholic Charities … discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation” in the provision of foster care and adoption services and demanded that Catholic Charities turn over a wide range of documents in response.

Gay rights advocates say Catholic Charities should follow the law because taxpayer money pays for its adoption and foster care services.

Three Catholic dioceseshave said they're suspending services.