SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A downstate judge says the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service may now begin canceling its adoption and foster care contracts with Catholic Charities.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt on Monday denied Catholic Charities’ request to stay his earlier ruling, in which he decreed that the group has no inalienable right to state contracts to provide adoption and foster care services.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

The state ended $30.6 million in contracts with Catholic Charities in four dioceses in July because the organizations’ practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies was discriminatory, a violation of the state’s civil union law.

The civil unions law grants domestic partnerships with many of the same benefits of marriage to both gay and straight couples. But Catholic Charities says it only serves married heterosexual couples who wish to adopt.

After civil unions became law at the beginning of June, Catholic Charities in Springfield, Peoria, Joliet and Belleville sued to forbid enforcement of a law that would forbid them from turning away same-sex couples when placing wards of the state.

The lawsuit was filed not long before the state decided to end its contract with the agency.

Attorneys for Catholic Charities say they will appeal the judge’s ruling.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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