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Catholic Charities withdraws civil unions lawsuit

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Catholic Charities says it's withdrawing from a legal battle over Illinois' civil unions law and no longer is providing state-funded services.

The move ends the group's long history in Illinois of providing foster care and adoptions.

Diocese officials in Joliet, Springfield and Belleville say Monday's decision was reached with reluctance. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria withdrew last month.

Illinois ended contracts in July with Catholic Charities in the dioceses because of the organizations' practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies. The state said it was discriminatory under the new civil unions law.

A Sangamon County judge sided with Illinois and said the state could begin canceling contracts worth more than $30 million.

But Catholic officials appealed, saying the group shouldn't be forced to place children in unmarried couples' homes.