From documents obtained by Illinois Review under FOIA, it appears that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (photo right) may have used her office to intimidate specific, faith-based, adoption agencies that legally decline to assist in adoptions for gay or co-habitating heterosexual couples.
The FOIA communications provided by the AG's office, reveal that in October of 2010, Attorney General Madigan notified Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) that a complaint of discrimination had been made against LCFS. As a result, the Attorney General opened an investigation of LCFS and demanded a copy and explanation of their adoption policy.
The documents received by Illinois Review included the actual complaint, which was made against LCFS only by a Lakeview couple. (see below)
However, the FOIA documents from the Attorney General's office seem to show that AG Madigan used this single, specific complaint about LCFS as a basis to simultaneously launch investigations of six other agencies, including Catholic Charities adoption agencies in Rockford, Joliet, Springfield, Peoria, and Southern Illinois, as well as Evangelical Child and Family Services in Wheaton, Illinois.
The Attorney General's letter to each stated that:
"This office received notice that [name of agency] discriminates against Illinois citizens based on religion, marital status and sexual orientation in its provision of adoption and foster care services." (see complete set of letters and documents below)
However, the AG's office received no so such notice regarding these six other adoption agencies; but opened investigations on, and demanded responses from, each none-the-less.
And as a result of these seemingly baseless investigations by the AG's office, all seven agencies have been forced to hire legal counsel and spend precious resources that could be going to help thousands of at-risk children here in Illinois.
Already Catholic Charities of Rockford has shut down its adoption services, which means further burden on the overtaxed state agencies and more kids falling through the cracks. Tomorrow Catholic Charities of Springfield will learn whether a Sangamon District Court will issue an injunction against the Attorney General's office. And despite having responded back in January to the AG's notification, Lutheran Child and Family Services still awaits some response from Attorney General Madigan as to how they specifically violated Illinois' Human Rights Act.
Details and documents of this situation are below:
In early June, Illinois Review filed a FOIA requesting "any correspondence involving the Attorney General's office concerning complaints about the Human Rights Act alleged violations involving Illinois religious or sectarian adoption and foster care agencies." The AG's office responded with a 33-page document containing one complaint of discrimination. That complaint was specifically against the Lutheran Child and Family Services.
Below is the actual complaint as filed with the AG's office on October 2010:
The complaintant replied:
Among the 33-page document the Attorney General's office sent to Illinois Review are two pages distributed by the Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) outlining their agency's policy, and what the complainant found most objectionable:
The document also spells out how the LCFS handled those situations:
Sometime after receiving the document (below), Attorney General Madigan's office contacted the LCFS office, asking for information. The FOIA response does not include the initial letter to the LCFS office, only the Lutheran agency's initial response dated on January 2, 2011. Eric Anderson, an attorney obtained by the LCFS office, responded by sending a copy of the agency's adoption policy involving non-heterosexual applicants, along with the LCFS' bylaws.
The two offices agreed to a conference call to be held on January 19, 2011. During that call, the AG's office apparently asked for a copy of the Lutheran Missouri Synod's policy on homosexuality. Anderson sent in the policy on February 3:
The last correspondence between the AG's office and the LCFS office (per the FOIA documents) after sending in the position above, is dated April 19, 2011. After months of silence from the AG's office, the LCFS's Vice President Mike Bertrand asked what the Attorney General's opinion is:
Eric Anderson, LCFS' attorney, told Illinois Review that as far as he knows, the agency has not heard from Attorney General Madigan's office since they were sent in the Missouri Synod's policy in February. Anderson added: "In our analysis the Lutheran Children and Family Services has acted according to the law."
Interestingly, the FOIA documents from the AG's office seem to indicate that while AG Madigan was launching an investigation of Lutheran Children and Family Services (based on the single complaint shown above), she also opened investigations of the Catholic Charities adoption agencies in Rockford, Joliet, Springfield, Peoria, and Southern Illinois, as well as the Evangelical Child and Family Services in Wheaton, Illinois.
However, according to the FOIA documents provided Illinois Review, no actual complaint against these agencies seems to exist.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 12, 2011) a Sangamon County judge will decide whether the Attorney General's office should be restrained from pursuing the investigations, and whether an injunction will be granted to prevent the AG's office from directly or indirectly coercing other sectarian agencies out of adoption services.
FOIA files obtained from the Attorney General's office are HERE: Download 2011AGFOIAAdoption
In Part 2, Illinois Review will report how the agencies and their attorneys interpret the Human Rights Act, and how the Attorney General is arguing the state's case.