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updated: 5/4/2011 6:15 PM

Catholic adoption agencies want civil union exemptions

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By Jeff Engelhardt
jengelhardt@dailyherald.com

SPRINGFIELD -- Directors of Catholic Charities from the suburbs and across the state gathered in Springfield Wednesday to push for legislation that would allow them to continue refusing to place children with gay or lesbian couples.

Catholic Charities wants to keep referring those and all other non-married couples to state adoption agencies.

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After the state approved civil unions in January, Catholic Charities became concerned the agency might be required to handle adoptions for gay couples. If that happened, the agency might end adoption services, the directors warned.

Glenn Van Cura, executive director for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet, said the group is not pushing an anti-gay agenda and simply wants to place children in what it considers the most stable environment.

"We see it as a very great responsibility that we do this and we do it with joy," he said. "We are committed to children and we always will be."

Opponents say gay and lesbian couples in civil unions should be treated the same as married couples.

Catholic Charities handles roughly 20 percent of adoption and foster care services in the state and the Joliet branch is one of the largest. Van Cura said there are nearly 70 programs serving Joliet, Naperville, Oak Brook, Hinsdale and other communities as well as 388 foster children cared for last year.

The legislation hasn't received a vote in the Senate.

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