Catholic Charities ends Ill. civil unions dispute

By SOPHIA TAREEN | November 14, 2011 | 7:25 PM EST

CHICAGO (AP) — Catholic Charities says it's ending its legal battle over Illinois' civil unions law and has stopped providing state-funded services.

The move ends the group's long history in Illinois of providing foster care and adoptions. Catholic Charities held foster care contracts with Illinois for about four decades.

The group wanted to continue its state contracts and its practice of referring unmarried couples who want to be adoptive or foster parents to other agencies. Catholic Charities cited principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

The state had said that practice violated the new law. It allows unmarried couples — gay or straight — to legally enter into civil unions.

In a statement Monday, diocese officials in Joliet, Springfield and Belleville said the decision was reached "with great reluctance."