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

2013-JAN: Bill stalls in Senate (Cont'd). Bill
re-introduced to new session of Senate & House.
FEB: Senate Executive Committee passes SSM bill

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2013-JAN-03: SSM bill stalls in the Senate (Cont'd):

The vote was expected to be debated and voted upon on Tuesday, JAN-08 during a special session. It was also expected that the House of Representatives might also take up the bill that week.

However, there did not seem to be sufficient votes in the House or Senate to pass the bill.

Some readers of a MSNBC article about the bill responded with interesting comments:

  • Embarrassed Illinoisian: "Geez.....damn liberals again screwing up this state. Would love to implant some of the sane Americans next door in Indiana to this left lop-sided state. Can we get anymore liberal as a state? Problem is the state is actually quite conservative except just a few wacky counties. Actually quite sad."

  • Doug504 replied to Embarrassed: "Your problem is that most people who live in Illinois disagree with you.  Get over it. I'm a liberal living in Louisiana.  Most people disagree with me.  I get it. But I'm not going to say anything as silly as 'the state is mostly liberal except for a few wacky counties'. I wish Louisiana was more liberal.  You wish Illinois was more conservative.  But the facts are against both of us."

  • Doug504 posted a second comment: "It always surprises me how many conservatives who claim to believe in 'limited government', 'individual responsibility', and 'family values' want the government to tell people who they can marry, what kind of birth control pills they can take, and who can adopt."

  • That's just my opinion: "Not sure HOW this [same-sex marriage] could have a negative effect on anyone. Aside from imaginary phobias that is..." 1

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2013-JAN-09: Bills re-introduced to the new session of the Senate and House:

This day was the first day of the new session of the Illinois General Assembly. As a result of the 2012-NOV election, the Democrats still control both the House and Senate, and they do so now with veto proof majorities. If, as many people expect, all or essentially all Democrats in both houses vote for the bill and all or essentially all Republicans vote against it, then the bill should comfortably pass. Governor Quinn (D), has committed to signing it into law.

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was re-introduced in both the House and the Senate right after new legislators are sworn into office.

Rick Garcia, director of the Equal Marriage Illinois project of The Civil Rights Agenda said:

"The time is here, the time is now to recognize and protect all Illinois families. To get this done, we need real people to stand up, tell our stories and be counted."

State Senator Heather Steans (D) said:

"Last week, the Senate Executive Committee made history by approving same-sex marriage and gave our efforts incredible momentum."

State Rep. Greg Harris (D) said:

"We are one step closer to equality in the Land of Lincoln." 2,3

Jim Bennett, of Lambda Legal issued a statement saying in part:

"The introduction of the bill on the first day of the new Illinois Legislative session is yet another sign that it's a matter of when, and not if, marriage [equality] happens in Illinois."

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2013-JAN-14: More business leaders support marriage equality:

More than 50 Illinois businesses and business leaders, including Navistar, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Leo Burnett, Google Inc., Groupon, Chicago Urban League, Orbitz Worldwide Inc., and Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy issued a statement in support of the current SSM bill, titled the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. 4 They argue that marriage equality would improve the competitive position of the state. Their statement says:

"States with the metro areas of New York City, Seattle, Boston, and Baltimore have already legalized marriage equality. Here in the Midwest, Iowa has granted full marriage equality, while Minnesota is poised to do the same later this year. Illinois simply cannot afford to be less competitive than other states. ... The American people are increasingly supportive of marriage equality, with a majority believing same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. We agree with them."

They believe that SSM marriage equality will strengthen the workforce, attract skilled workers, and bolster economic development. 5

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that same-sex marriage ceremonies would generate between $39 and $72 million revenue for businesses and $4.5 to $8 million in new sales an lodging tax revenues for the state government over a three year interval. In addition, there would be tens of millions of dollars due to tourism, hospitality and other activities associated with wedding ceremonies and receptions.

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2013-FEB-05: The Senate Executive Committee passes SSM bill:

By a party line vote, all 9 Democrats voted in favor of Senate Bill 110 and all 5 Republicans opposed it. The Senate Executive Committee moved the SSM bill to the Senate for a vote.

Governor Pat Quinn (D) issued a statement saying:

"Now is the time for the next step in providing equal rights to all people in Illinois." 6

Sen. Heather Steans (D) who sponsored the bill, said:

"Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reason we all do: For the common respect, commitment to families, the obligation and the benefits that come with marriage." 7

During testimony on the bill:

  • Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos have been partners for 21 years and have two children. They joined in a civil union when the legislation was passed. Volpe described how she was banned from her son's hospital room in intensive care because the hospital administrators did not understand what a civil union meant. The couple are plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking same-sex marriage via the courts in Illinois. 8

  • Bishop Thomas Paprocki, represented the Catholic Conference of Illinois. He noted that he and the leaders of 1,700 other congregations in the state who signed a petition viewed same-sex marriage as a threat to their beliefs. He said that within the Catholic Church:

    "Marriage is neither two men nor two women. This [bill] will radically redefine what marriage is for everybody." 8

  • In a letter signed by the Thomas More Society, President Thomas Brejcha and Executive Director Peter Breen wrote that Illinois lawmakers will:

    "... declare constituents who believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman to be bigots and discriminators. 8

  • Danielle Cook and Suzie Hutton are partners in a civil union. Cook said that same-sex marriage is needed to "... make our lives more complete." Their union is not fully recognized socially and in employment settings. She said "It hurt." She sees her relationship as a marriage, but others do not. 9

  • The Rev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle of Good Shepherd Church in Romeoville, IL, said she is heterosexual and married. She views the bill as a "matter of legal, civil, and human rights." She believes that partners in civil unions "... are married in the eyes of God." 9

  • Rev. Keith Williams of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church of Country Club Hills. IL disagreed. He said he was in "vehement opposition" to the bill because SSM went against his interpretation of the basic teachings of the Bible. 9

    This is a frequent belief among conservative Christians, many of which feel that biblical themes and passages, as they interpret them, should determine both church policies and state laws. It is important to note that liberal and progressive Christians interpret the key biblical passages dealing with same-gender sexual behavior very differently; many suggest that none of them refer to loving, committed same-sex relationships. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any way in which the beliefs of conservative and liberal/progressive Christians can be harmonized.

Senator Christine Radogno speculated that there might be bipartisan support for the bill if it were amended to specifically grant religious groups the religious freedom to discriminate with impunity against lesbians, gays and bisexuals by refusing to marry such couples.

The historical meaning of the term "religious freedom" was the freedom to hold unusual religious beliefs, to gather with other believers, to proselytize, etc. However, the meaning seems to be rapidly shifting to the religious freedom to discriminate against others.

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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. Traci G. Lee, "Same-sex marriage bill advances in Illinois Senate," MSNBC, 2013-JAN-03, at: http://tv.msnbc.com
  2. Dan Avery, "IL State Sen. Introduce Same-Sex Marriage Bill In New Legislative Session." Queerty, 2012-JAN-09, at: http://www.queerty.com/
  3. Text of the Religious Freedom-Marriage Act is available at: http://www.ilga.gov/
  4. "Open letter from Illinois business leaders on marriage equality," Chicago Phoenix, 2013-JAN, at: http://chicagophoenix.com/
  5. Tony Merevick, "Google, Groupon, dozens of business leaders back Illinois same-sex marriage bill," Chicago Phoenix, 2013-JAN-13, at: http://chicagophoenix.com
  6. Renita Young, "Illinois starts push to legalize same-sex marriage by Valentine's Day," Reuters, 2013-FEB-05, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  7. "Illinois Senate Committee Approves Gay Marriage," CBS St. Louis, 2013-FEB-05, at: http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/
  8. Joanne von Alroth, "Same-sex marriage bill heads to Illinois state Senate floor," Reuters, 2013-JAN-05, at: http://www.laredosun.us/
  9. Ray Long & Rafael Guerrero, "Gay marriage clears first hurdle in Illinois Senate," Chicago Tribune, 2013-FEB-06, at: http://articles.chicagotribune.com

Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2013-JAN-03
Latest update: 2013-FEB-14
Author: B.A. Robinson
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