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Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions in Illinois.

2012-DEC: Newspaper endorses SSM bill. Bill to be
introduced into the Legislature early in 2013.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2012-DEC-25: Chicago Sun-Times endorses marriage equality:

They wrote:

"And now for a little love.

With all the talk of the fiscal cliff, assault weapons and death in Newtown, CT, it can be easy to forget that most of us go about our lives peacefully, hand-in-hand with the people we’ve chosen to call family.

For most of us, those families can be recognized by law through the institution of marriage.

But if you’re a gay or lesbian, your unions are second class under Illinois law. Even if you already have kids, a dog, a minivan, the whole nine yards.

It’s time to fix that.

And a growing number of folks in Illinois agree.

On Sunday, about 260 Illinois clergy and religious leaders joined the fight to legalize gay marriage in Illinois. They came out in a support of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which its sponsors hope to call for a vote in the state Legislature during the first week in January.

These leaders, who are in the community building business, say legalized gay marriage is just what our communities and families need.

'The very basis of marriage is to protect the family, strengthen our communities and advocate compassion. No couple should be excluded from that,' the clergy wrote in an open letter.

'We want to promote the common good — that which is best for individuals, couples, families, children and society.'

These 260 leaders stepped up as individuals, not as representatives of their congregations.

And that’s just fine. The gay marriage bill goes out of its way to make clear that no religious institution would be required to consecrate a gay union. Marriage is a civil matter, and the bill’s drafters made sure to keep it that way.

At at time when the nation is feeling raw and unmoored, embracing love seems just the right thing to do.

On Sunday, about 260 Illinois clergy and religious leaders joined the fight to legalize gay marriage in Illinois. They came out in a support of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which its sponsors hope to call for a vote in the state Legislature during the first week in January.

These leaders, who are in the community building business, say legalized gay marriage is just what our communities and families need.

'The very basis of marriage is to protect the family, strengthen our communities and advocate compassion. No couple should be excluded from that,' the clergy wrote in an open letter.

'We want to promote the common good — that which is best for individuals, couples, families, children and society.'

These 260 leaders stepped up as individuals, not as representatives of their congregations.

And that’s just fine. The gay marriage bill goes out of its way to make clear that no religious institution would be required to consecrate a gay union. Marriage is a civil matter, and the bill’s drafters made sure to keep it that way.

At at [sic] time when the nation is feeling raw and unmoored, embracing love seems just the right thing to do." 1

As is so common in statements on SSM, the author(s) refer only to relationships involving two gays or two lesbians. They ignore the fate of loving, committed same-sex couples which include one or two bisexuals.

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2012-DEC-28: Bill scheduled for Senate introduction in early 2013-JAN:

On election day, 2012-NOV-06, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state passed referendums that legalized same-sex marriage (SSM) in their state. That made a total of 9 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have achieved marriage equality where any loving, committed couple could obtain a marriage license, whether of the opposite sex or same-sex, subject only to age and genetic limitations.

These referendums verified the findings of numerous national polls since 2011 that showed an increasing majority of American adults support marriage equality.

The results of the referendums were a win-win situation for religious groups because:

  • For the first time in these three states, mainline and liberal religious groups and clergy were no longer forbidden from marrying loving, committed same-sex couples.

  • Conservative religious groups and clergy are still allowed to reject with impunity any same-sex couple who came to them wanting to be married.

Also in 2012, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had found Proposition 8 -- the California voter initiative that banned SSM in 2008 -- to be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted this case and is expected to rule on it in 2013-JUN.

Also as a result of the 2012 election, both the Illinois House and Senate now contain a super-majority of Democrat legislators.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriages is scheduled to be introduced in the Senate perhaps as early as 2012-JAN-03. It will be titled the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act."

Rikeesha Phelon, spokesperson for the Senate President John Cullerton (D), announced that Senator Heather Steans (D) will introduce bill to legalize SSM before the new session of the Senate begins. Phelon said:

"The Senate president and Senator Steans are confident they have the votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill." 2

A similar bill is being introduced into the Illinois House by Rep. Greg Harris (D). It contains a religious exemption that allows conservative clergy, congregations and religious denominations to freely exercise their religious freedom to discriminate against the LGBT community by refusing to marry same-sex couples. Whether the Senate version will contain a similar clause has not been decided. The clause is not really needed because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already grants religious organizations and clergy the right to discriminate with impunity. However, previous bills in state Legislatures have always reinforced the U.S. Constitution with the addition of a redundant religious freedom clause. The presence of the phrase "Religious Freedom" in the bill's title would seem to indicate that the Senate bill will also contain an immunity clause.

Rahm Emanuel (D) , Mayor of Chicago, Governor Pat Quinn (D), and other leading Democrats have all endorsed SSM. 2

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Editorial: All we need is love — and marriage," Chicago Sun-Times, 2012-DEC-25, at: http://www.suntimes.com
  2. Joanne von Alroth, "Illinois could be next state to legalize gay marriage," Reuters News Service, 2012-DEC-28, at: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/

Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2012-FEB-13
Latest update: 2012-JAN-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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