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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages & civil unions in Illinois.

2012-FEB/APR: Same-sex marriage bill stalls.
Polls. Advisory referendum attempt fails.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2012-FEB-08: Same-sex marriage bill filed in Illinois Assembly (Cont'd):

Erika N. Chen-Walsh, an Illinois lawyer specializing in family law, wrote:

"Illinois residents should support the passage of HB 5170 into law.  Opponents of same sex marriage argue that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples and that the creation of civil union creates a separate, but virtually equal unionization for same sex couples.  History and case law have demonstrated that there is no such thing as separate but equal.  In its holding that the segregation of school children based on race was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection clause, the U.S. Supreme Court held that:

' Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does. . .To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone'."

"... As I have written previously, there is no meaningful distinction between discrimination based on race and discrimination based on sexual orientation.  When equal protection can be denied to one group of people based on discrimination, all of our rights are in jeopardy. Illinois residents should applaud the representatives that introduced HB 5170 and should contact their own representatives and encourage them to support equal protection under the law." 1

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2012-APR-15: Bill HP 5170 stalled in the legislature:

The bill has not been scheduled for discussion in several Illinois House Committees. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee. It is not expected to be voted upon during 2012. reports:

" 'I never say never,' said State Rep. Greg Harris '[But] I don’t think there will be a push before the end of this session.

The Illinois state budget, rimming pension and Medicaid outlays are taking precedence and many politicos in the House do not want to touch what they call a 'hot button social issue', especially in an election year." 2

Harris also said:

"They call it a struggle for equality for a reason. I look at the roll call for the civil union bill and the people that voted at that time. Nearly a quarter of the people in the Senate and a third of House are gone. We have a whole new group of legislators that have to be educated to get back to that original level of support. ..."

"The community needs to build support among my colleague. They need to hear from folks in their district. From LGBT couples who live there, from families who live there. This was huge for the civil union vote, with parents and grandparents going in too. This is not a lesbian and gay issue. It’s an equality issue for all of our families. ..."

"People need to remain ever vigilant and keep fighting because our opponents sure will. Those in favor will write a letter or make a phone call. They’re not quite as fervent. We’ve got to remember that for the right wing evangelicals, this is a make or break issue for them. They believe that this is their mission, to defeat it. We have to be just as strong as a community to fight for it." 3

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2012-APR-16: Polling data:

"LadyKBrandt" wrote in the Brandt Standard:

"The last statewide poll on the topic conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University was during the fall of 2010, when a third of registered voters said they supported gay marriage. Back then, the civil unions measure passed with only one vote to spare in the Illinois House.

In another poll this spring, 22 percent of registered voters in the state’s most conservative region — the southernmost 18 counties — said they supported legalization.

'You’d have a hard time moving the ball down here I think, in terms of civil unions to full-blown gay marriage,' said Charlie Leonard, a visiting professor at the institute who coordinates polling.

On the national level, Gallup polling showed for the first time last year that a majority of Americans believed gay marriage should be recognized by the law." 4

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2012-Spring: Attempt to place advisory referendum on the 2012-NOV ballot:

The Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative (IDMI) 5 believes that marriage cannot be redefined by the government because it was established by God. The group attempted to collect a half million signatures on a petition to place a non-binding referendum on the 2012-NOV ballot. If passed, it would have asked the legislature to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The proposed wording was:

"To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." 6

It appears to be a stealth amendment that is being sought:

  • It was promoted solely as an anti-same-sex marriage measure.

  • However, if adopted by the legislature in the form of a constitutional amendment, the "or similar union" phrase would seem to prohibit same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and any other formal government recognition of loving, committed same-sex relationships. Same-sex couples would be regarded as "legal strangers" to each other, and their relationships would be ignored by the government.

IDMI was required to submit 298,400 valid signatures by 2012-MAY-07 in order to have the initiative appear on the election day ballot. Jim Finnegan, the Initiative's president, predicted that the petition drive would fall very short of their goal of 500,000. He expected only about 100,000 signatures would be raised by the end of 2012-APR. 6

We have emailed IDMI asking for the current status of this petition. As of 2012-DEC-28, their web site does not seem to have been updated for at least 8 months.

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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. Erika N. Chen-Walsh, "Same-sex marriage in Illinois," blog, 2012-FEB-20, at:
  2. Will Kohler, "Illinois Bill HB 5170 To Overturn States DOMA Law Stalled And All But Dead For 2012," Back2Stonewall 2012-APR-15, at:
  3. Joseph D. Lyons, "Harris: votes ‘aren’t there’ for marriage equality in Illinois," Chicago Phoenix, 2012-APR-16, at:
  4. LadyKBrandt, "Illinois Not Ready To Say ‘I do’ To Same-Sex Marriage," The Brandt Standard, 2012-APR-16, at:
  5. The home page of the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative is at: It appears to be inactive.
  6. Casey Cameron, "Anti-Gay Marriage Referendum Effort Failing Again in Illinois," The Examiner, 2012-APR-16, at:
  7. Rick Miller, "Anti gay marriage petition drive and gay marriage bill both come up short," Capital Fax, 2012-APR-16, at:

Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2012-FEB-13
Latest update: 2012-DEC-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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