Illinois is looking to become part of the growing number of states to finally legalize same- sex marriage. The bill moved out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee with a 9-5 vote, which now allows the bill to be fully considered by the Senate on Thursday.
The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and was unable to gain traction on the bill during the month of December until it was amended to exempt religious institutions from having to perform same-sex marriages.
Republicans and Democrats have united on the issue. Governor Pat Quinn (D) said that if passed he will sign the bill into law and back in January Pat Brady — the chairman of the Republican party for Illinois-came out in support of the bills passage. Also voicing their support for passage was a group of 50 business leaders who wrote to the General Assembly encouraging them to act.
Support for the bill has been drummed up in large part by the continued efforts and pressure from the coalition, Illinois Unites for Marriage. The group is made up of three organizations:, Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of Illinois which have relied on grassroots organization to firm up support.
But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the likely passage of the bill, especially Cardinal Francis George of the Chicago Archdiocese who wrote a letter to priests condemning the bill.
"Civil laws that establish 'same-sex marriage' create a legal fiction," George and the bishops wrote in a letter sent to priests Tuesday. "The state has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible."
It’s unclear if Cardinal George would rather see the 23,049 same sex couples in Illinois raising over 7,622 children do so in a home where the individuals are afforded far fewer protections and legal benefits. Because, that’s got to be better for families and children right?
Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is also staunchly opposed to the legislation. Oberweis was unable to get quorum to prevent the bill from advancing to the floor for a vote. He was so outraged at Pat Brady’s endorsement of the legislation he sent an e-mail to fellow Republicans lambasting him and calling for his removal. Obwerweis rented a conference room at a local hotel to discuss ousting the party chairman. Again, Oberweis was unable to get the five votes necessary to hold the meeting to discuss ousting the chairman.
Oberweis and other Republicans who are against same sex marriage a part of the minority in Illinois. Polls show that around 47% of Illinoisans support gay marriage, compared to the 42% who disapprove.
The Illinois Republican platform appears to be at odds with itself over the issue of same sex marriage. It’s got to be embarrassing for Republicans who at once promote children brought up in a two parent household, but then stand in the way of that happening.
A vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is expected to be held on Valentine's Day.