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

More reactions to Senate passage of the SSM bill
Poll shows majority support for SSM in Illinois.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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More reactions to the passage of the SSM bill by the Senate:

  • State Senator Heather Steans (D), the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate said:

    "It is time Illinois get rid of its second-class status for a segment of our residents and allow everyone the opportunity to reap the emotional, social and economic benefits and obligations of marriage. ... "

    You hear stories about the haters out there and what’s that’s like. Having to walk through this bill with them, I felt it myself. It’s very humbling to see what kind of discrimination really is put on people and the kind of hatred that is there through no choice of that person." 1

  • Sen. Martin Sandoval (D) criticized the Roman Catholic Church for opposing the bill, while having taken no action against problems in its own priesthood. He said:

    "I … witnessed personally in my eight years in the seminary, you know, homosexuality, alcoholism and even men that were pedophiles. The church and its leaders who didn’t provide any support to these good men of faith [and] allowed them to ruin the lives of many of our loved ones. ... This is the day where you and I could send a message to our faith leaders: we will live the greatest commandment of all, and that is love one another." 1

  • Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D) drew a a parallel between this bill and the civil rights battles of the mid-20th century which eventually legalized interracial marriages. She said:

    "Martin Luther King once said, 'The moral arc of the universe is long, but it always bends toward justice.' And today, we have an opportunity, each and every one of us, to put our hands on that arc and bend it toward what’s fair and what’s right."

This sentiment was not matched by some members of the Senate Black Caucus. Sen. Napoleon Harris (D) and Sen. Patricia Van Pelt Watkins (D), cast "present" votes.

  • Sen. Dale Bivins (R) apparently felt that Illinois should become a theocracy and base its laws on the Bible. He said:

    "We are knocking down one of the central foundations of society with this bill. ...From the Old Testament to the New, there’s nothing that supports same-sex marriage." 1

  • Sen. Daniel Biss (D) discussed the effects that the bill would have on his four-year-o;d son:

    "During today’s debate on the Marriage Fairness Act, I told my colleagues about my son Elliot. At age four, he is open and accepting. But there’s nothing surprising about a small child seeing a loving same-sex couple committed to living together in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, and seeing a marriage like any other. After all, we're not born differentiating between people based on race, color, creed or sexual orientation. That’s learned behavior.

    Unfortunately, Elliot may spend the next decade bombarded by signals telling him that same-sex couples aren't legitimate or entitled to equal rights. These signals will come from popular culture, from peers in school and from adults. Today the Senate took a stand and said those signals will no longer come from the State of Illinois.

    On behalf of all my gay and lesbian constituents, who have waited patiently for far too long for the right simply to be treated like everyone else, I voted yes. I voted to teach all our children that Illinois stands for equality." 2

  • Sen. William Delgado (D) agreed with his fellow Democrats:

    "This legislation is about human dynamics and family and evolving. I voted today to ensure that the LGBT Community will no longer be treated like second class citizens in the benefits they are afforded under Illinois laws." 2

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  • According to the Catholic News Service:

    "The Illinois Catholic bishops decried a state Senate vote to permit same-sex marriage, calling it 'redefinition of marriage legislation'." 3

  • Lambda Legal posted the following message on their web site:

    " 'We thank the Illinois Senate for passing this historic bill, making this a sweet Valentine’s Day for loving same-sex couples across the state,' says Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal's Midwest Regional Office. 'The momentum for marriage continues on this day American holiday honoring love and commitment, and we now urge the House of Representatives to join the right side of history and grant same-sex couples the dignity and respect of marriage.'

    Lambda Legal congratulates and thanks the bill's sponsor in the Senate, Heather Steans, along with Senate co-sponsors Koehler, Hutchinson, Harmon and Delgado. Lambda Legal also thanks the bill’s sponsor in the House of Representatives, Greg Harris, along with Representatives Kelly Cassidy and Deb Mell. To become law, the bill needs at least 60 votes in the House and the Governor's signature." 4

The Governor's signature would be no problem because he has already indicated his enthusiastic support. However, obtaining sufficient votes in the Illinois House is considerably more problematic.

  • Peter Breen, is executive director of the Thomas More Society, a conservative advocacy organization. He issued a statement saying:

    "The same sex marriage bill passed by the Illinois Senate today would violate the rights of Illinois churches and religious organizations to follow their faith free of government oppression. It would also force Illinois businesses owners to operate in fear of being shut down because of their conscientious objections to same-sex marriage. Why are Illinois politicians working to trample the rights of the millions of people of faith across our state to live and work in accord with their religious beliefs? The senators’ action today serves as a declaration that their constituents’ sincere beliefs about the true nature of marriage are bigoted and discriminatory. The Illinois House should reject the redefinition of marriage and this poorly drafted bill." 7

    Unfortunately, he did not describe how churches and faith groups would have their rights violated. Churches and clergy would still be guaranteed freedom to discriminate against same-sex couples by not marrying them. They would still be permitted to expel any same-sex couples or members of the LGBT community that they find in their churches. No business owners would be prosecuted because of their "conscientious objections to same-sex marriage." However if they take their objections to the next level and actually refuse to sell to the LGBT community goods and services that they provide to the general public, then they might violate existing state anti-discrimination laws. This has happened in a small number of cases across the country. No such company has been shut down to our knowledge. Some have had their business dramatically increase as individuals of like mind preferentially seek them out. We have not heard of any Illinois legislator accuse persons opposed to same-sex marriage as being bigots. However, it is now almost a century and a half since African Americans were allowed to marry across the U.S. Today, individuals who still oppose allowing African Americans to marry are considered racial bigots by some. It is now about a half a century since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage across the country. Today, those persons who still oppose interracial marriage are considered racial bigots by some. It is probable that 50 years after same-sex marriage is legalized in a state that those who still oppose SSM will be considered bigots. But this remains to be seen.

    On 2013-MAY-18, we sent the Thomas More Society an email via a form on their web site. Their system responded: "We will get back to you as soon as possible." Our query was:

    "You write that if it becomes law, the same-sex marriage bill in Illinois would '... violate the rights of Illinois churches and religious organizations to follow their faith free of government oppression.'

    Can you tell me how this would happen. Churches and clergy could still refused to marry same-sex couples with impunity. They could freely expel any same-sex couples or LGBTs that they find to be members. I can't figure out how the government could oppress faith groups."

    We do not expect a response.

  • According to House Speaker Michael Madigan on 2013-MAR-13, is "12 votes short of passage" in the House. Steve Brown, spokesperson for Speaker Madigan said:
  • "It’s a hard issue to monitor " social issues " people are getting pulled in a lot of different directions here. The only way to know for sure is to have a vote." 5

  • The chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. Greg Harris, has said that he will not call up the bill for a vote until he has secured sufficient votes to pass it. He asked his group's supporters to increase pressure on the legislators to counteract the efforts of groups like the Illinois Family Association and the National Organization for Marriage which are actively trying to prevent same-sex couples from being able to marry. Harris wrote a letter to bill supporters saying, in part:

    "We’ve come this far because your stories and your activism have made it clear that SB10 is much more than just a piece of legislation. It’s about guaranteeing that every family in our state is afforded the dignity and protections we all deserve. Even if you think your Representative is supportive " and even if they’ve already committed to voting ‘yes’ " the stakes are too high to make any assumptions. We can’t let up until this bill is on its way to Governor Quinn’s desk, ready to be signed into law."

  • Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois -- a pro-marriage equality group -- said:

    "Even though the counts are determined by the leadership around the bill, I feel really confident because the majority of Illinoisans support the bill." 5

  • Rep. Meanne Ives (R) taped a Catholic Conference of Illinois radio program in late February. She said that she will vote against the bill. She accused marriage equality proponents of:

    "... trying to redefine marriage. ... [Same-sex marriage is] a completely disordered relationship. ... They’re trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy. And we can’t allow that to happen." 6

  • Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda -- a group that supports marriage equality -- responded:

    "Her comments would be laughable if she wasn’t so out of touch with mainstream America. She may call us weasels, but I call her chicken. She campaigned on concealed and carry and pensions and she has voted ‘no’ on both of those issues throughout the session. Representatives on both sides of the aisle need to be thinking about what side of the debate they want to be remembered for in history -- the side of fairness and equality or the side where Rep. Ives is standing now." 6

2013-FEB-19: Crain/Ipsos polling data released:

The Queerty web site reported that the same-sex marriage bill -- the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act" -- is supported by most adults in the state support SSM. Results:

  • 50% support the bill.
  • 29% oppose the bill
  • 21% are undecided or did not answer.

The survey also found that those favoring legalization of SSM held stronger beliefs in favor of marriage equality than opponents did against SSM.

600 adults were polled. The margin of error is ~+mn~4.7 percentage points. 8

Opposition to SSM seems to have collapsed since a previous poll was taken during 2012-NOV when Public Policy Polling found:

  • 47% favored SSM
  • 42% were opposed to SSM
  • 11% were unsure or didn't answer.

600 adults were polled. The margin of error is ~+mn~4.4 percentage points. 9 We suspect that the two polling agencies use different methods to calculate the margin of error. Our estimate of the margin of error is based on the American Research Group's margin of error calculator which predicts ~+mn~4.0 percentage points.

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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. Dave McKinney & Zach Buccheit, "Gay marriage bill clears state Senate, fate in House unclear," Chicago Sun Times, 2013-FEB-14, at:
  2. "Illinois Pols react to gay marriage advancement," Ward Room, 2013-FEB-15, at:
  3. "Illinois Senate vote on same-sex marriage decried," Catholic News Service, 2013-FEB, at:
  4. "Illinois Senate passes marriage bill," Lambda Legal, 2013-FEB-14, at:
  5. Tony Merevick, "Illinois marriage equality bill short votes in House; date for vote unclear," Chicago Phoenix, 2013-MAR-13, at:
  6. Gerald Farinas, "Illinois Republican lawmaker: gay marriages 'disordered,' would 'redefine society'," Chicago Phoenix, 2013-MAR-13, at:
  7. "TMS Issues Statement on Illinois Senate’s Vote to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage," Thomas More Society, 2013-FEB-14, at:
  8. "Poll: Half of Illinois supports marrige equality; less than a third oppose," Queerty, 2013-FEB-19, at:
  9. "Illinois and New Jersey support gay marriage," Public Policy Polling, 2012-DEC-05, at:

Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted: 2013-FEB-15
Latest update: 2013-SEP-21
Author: B.A. Robinson
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