Ill. foster-care dispute a matter of law and faith

By JIM SUHR | September 10, 2011 | 1:20 PM EDT

FILE --In this Aug. 18, 2011 file photo, Mark Zartman poses for a photo at his home where he has fostered some two dozen kids over the past five years, in Bartelso, Ill. However now the Zartman says he's ready to walk away from the contribution as the state presses to end its four-decade relationship with a Catholic adoption and foster care charity over a flap involving the state's new civil unions law. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson/file)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The roughly 2,000 foster parents who work through a Catholic charity in Illinois could soon face a painful decision.

The state is trying to cancel contracts totaling more than $30 million with the group Catholic Charities because it's refusing to recognize Illinois' new civil unions law.

The charity sued, saying it shouldn't be forced to place children with unmarried couples. A judge sided with the state.

If the charity ultimately loses its appeal, its families would have to work with another agency.

Beth Banuelos and her husband have cared for about 50 children through Catholic Charities in southern Illinois. She says she'd probably try working with another agency.

But fellow longtime foster parent Mark Zartman says he wouldn't, in part because foster children need the structure of "a traditional family."