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Proposal To Restrict Gay Adoptions Fails In Senate Committee

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Updated 04/13/11 – 4:45 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – A controversial bill that would limit adoptions by same-sex couples was defeated in an Illinois Senate committee on Wednesday.

The proposed amendment would allow faith-based groups to turn away gay or lesbian couples joined in a civil union who want to adopt or become foster parents.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Alex Degman reports

It says the agencies are responsible for referring couples they reject to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services so they can find out about other agencies.

It came up for consideration in the Executive Committee of the Illinois Senate on Wednesday, but was defeated and held in committee.

The legislation is tacked onto state Senate Bill 1123, proposed Feb. 28, which deals with the rights of the blind and physically disabled.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the openly gay lawmaker who sponsored the successful legislation to legitimize same-sex civil unions in Illinois, said the proposal was a direct attack on the civil unions law, which takes effect June 1.

Those siding with Harris call it discrimination and say that faith-based adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funds should not be allowed to discriminate.

Harris also shared a fact sheet distributed by the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union, which called the legislation not only discriminatory, but potentially harmful to children.

“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 and adoptive homes to children,” the fact sheet said.

The law’s chief Senate sponsor, state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), has been in an unusual position since agreeing to become the civil union law’s chief Senate sponsor, as both the parent of a gay and an ordained minister. He said he is merely trying to clean up language in the civil unions law, which takes effect July 1.

The co-sponsor for the law, state Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), was also the sponsor of a constitutional amendment proposed in February that would have banned same-sex marriage in Illinois. Last week, that proposed amendment was sent to the senate Executive Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, which doesn’t have any members or scheduled meetings, in what experts say is a common move to sweep away a piece of proposed legislation.

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