Phil Reese

Illinois Right Wing Is Forcing through an Anti-LGBT Bill

Filed By Phil Reese | April 12, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: adoption rights, Employment non-discrimination, protections

I've seen the face of evil, and it is the cunning Illinois Right Wing.

exception-alert.jpgHidden carefully by Sen David Koehler in SB 1123, a bill to assist the blind - like an arsenic pill hidden in a crême brulé - beneath text allowing for raises for County Clerks, the Conservatives waited until 5pm today, in the 11th hour of this bill before its Wednesday committee vote, to slide in amendments that seek to do everything possible to tear apart the lives of LGBT people in Illinois.

We're talking insidious here.

The bill would amend the recently passed civil unions bill in Illinois to not only allow adoption agencies to discriminate against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the adoption process - something currently illegal in Illinois currently, and has been Illegal for years with no negative consequences - the bill would also dismantle the Human Rights Act in the most dastardly way.

Religious institutions would be able to discriminate in these matters against anyone for any religiously motivated reason. Race, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, it doesn't matter. The GOP wants you out of the job if they don't like the cut of your jib. This law that protects us from discrimination from our state-funded and regulated institutions was amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 2005, and the far right has been seething since. Now is their chance.

It's frightening that they are shoving this through so fast in a state like Illinois. And if the GOP wins here, they know they'll be able to win anywhere. You have to scroll all the way down to page 28 of the amendment, after all the touchy-feely of raises in pay for clerks, and fees for their jobs... and then there it is in all of its evil, sadistic glory. This will see a fight to the death on the floor, which is why it needs to be killed in committee on Tuesday before the deadline.

It should be noted that Sen Koehler--the bill's sponsor and amendment author--has a lesbian daughter that just got engaged. I wonder why this man would sponsor a bill that would prevent his daughter from adopting.

Right now we really need:

  • Catholic families against injustice
  • Folks raised by same-sex parents who live in Illinois
  • Same-sex headed families willing to stand up and be heard

Get on the phone right this moment and ask for your Illinois Senator at 217-782-3944

Here is the alert sent out by the ACLU earlier tonight. Please pass it on:

SB 1123 Amendment 1 (Sen. Koehler).

Amends the Civil Union Act to allow religiously affiliated child welfare agencies to discriminate against parties to a civil union and to refer the parties to a civil union to DCFS for information concerning non-discriminatory child welfare agencies for adoption or foster family home applications, licensure and placements.

  • Since lesbian and gay male couples are denied the ability to marry and their marriages legally entered elsewhere are treated as civil unions, SB 1123 perpetuates a long history of discrimination towards lesbian and gay couples and reduces the pool of available foster andadoptive homes to children, in violation of the Due Process Fourteenth Amendment rights ofwards of DCFS to be safe and adequately cared for as recognized in the B.H. Consent Decree.
  • All of the leading child welfare organizations have recognized, based on years of rigorous scientific studies, that lesbian and gay parents are just as good at parenting as are heterosexual parents; there is no legitimate state interest served by taking potential loving families out of the pool of placements. As a result of this bill, the best placement -a child's aunt or a skilled nurse or social worker who would welcome a child with special needs -may be rejected, simply because the prospective parent is lesbian or gay.
  • The federal equal protection clause bans the government from allowing private agencies to practice discrimination when choosing families for adoptive children. The obligation to license foster parents and to screen adoptive parents is the state's. When the state delegates part of that duty to a private agency the state remains responsible to make certain that the process is consistent with state and federal law, including the 14th Amendment; religiously affiliated agencies should not be permitted to discriminate, especially when doing so can hurt children by excluding a whole class of loving families.
  • SB1123 violates the constitutional rights of Illinoisans by burdening the rights of lesbian and gay couples and other unmarried persons to establish intimate relationships. See Arkansas Dept. of Human Serv. v. Cole, 2011 Ark. 145, 2011 WL 1319217 (Ark. Apr. 7, 2011) (law prohibiting persons cohabiting in an unmarried intimate relationship from serving as adoptive or foster parents violates their fundamental right to form intimate relationships).

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Just one point: The bill would not dismantle the Human Rights Act - that's an old version of the bill which did not make it through.

Good point, Yasmin, but they're certainly trying to take a stab at the rights afforded by the HRA. Also note, this isn't just an anti-gay bill, but a racist bill, a sexist bill, a Christo-fascist bill. They want adoption agencies to be able to turn back the clock to 1950 and discriminate on anyone they want to, on any basis. Bad news for kids in need of a home.

Yes, - but it's crucial to point out that, technically, they're not dismantling the HRA. If we spread that kind of misinformation (and legislators take this kind of thing very literally), it does more harm than good in the long run. The HRA would mean a completely different battle for activists on the ground, and it makes things more complicated and difficult for them if they also have to keep swatting at nebulous and unprovable assertions.

Also, while I certainly think this is a huge problem - could you explain why it's also racist and sexist? Again, I do think people need to act swiftly, but I'm not clear on how it goes beyond disallowing unmarried people who don't share "religious values and beliefs." Presumably, that could mean that an Islamic or Hindu agency could theoretically also disallow adoptions, am I correct?

I appreciate the need to get the word out, but I'm wondering if we could do it with some clarity.

It exempts the religious organizations from having to adhere to the non-discrimination laws altogether--that does mean race and religion. It doesn't single out sexual orientation. I posted the link to the bill in the article. If it violates their sincerely held religious beliefs, they can use any reason to deny an adoption. Right there in the text.

It's a dodgy and thorny issue - "religious beliefs" could mean anything. I think this raises interesting issues about private and public entities. The central issue is that any agency receiving ANY kind of state, city, or federal funding is, presumably, not allowed to assert such "rights." Presumably, an agency that's entirely privately funded can do so.

I'm not sure if that means that they don't have to adhere to the non-discrimination laws altogether, but it does mean they're getting around it.

For folks who are curious, here's Section 65 of the bill, which is the part in question.

"Sec. 65. Religious child welfare agencies. 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. If an agency declines an application pursuant to this Section, then it must provide the applicant with information on how to contact the Department of Children and Family Services to
obtain information concerning other regional licensed child welfare agencies."

That's simply a way to get around "Romer v. Evans". Nothing else. They can't specifically single out gays, but everyone KNOWS who this is targeted at.

No surprise this is about adoption agencies. It's been weird, but the meme that I've noticed more this past year than before is that gay rights shuts down religious adoption agencies. There are only one or two agencies I can think of that even claimed they were being shut down because of anti-discrimination legislation, but that's turned into "Gay rights keeps babies in orphanages."

I don't think it's weird at all Alex. Nor if you think about it is it new.

The right's standard-bearer and most effective attack on queer/LGBT people has always been that we are a threat to children. Decades of studies and personal experiences have shown that we aren't sexual predators, we raise kids just as well as heterosexuals, and the majority of Americans now know openly queer/LGBT people.

"Gay rights keeps babies in orphanages" isn't a new meme, it's just a new take on a very old (and frankly, financially successful) one. The right don't have all that many arrows left in their quiver so they're trying to get as much millage as they can out of this one.