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Religious Tolerance logo

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

2013-FEB to APR: IL Public opinion polls. House
Committee passes the Religious Freedom and
Marriage Fairness Act
Black pastors divided.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2013-FEB: Illinois polls on same-sex marriage:

  • Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale conducted a poll of 600 registered voters between JAN-27 and FEB-08. Subjects were asked for their preferences how same-sex relationships should be recognized: by same sex marriage, civil unions or not at all. Results show shows that support for same-sex marriage has grown from 33.6% in 2010 to 45.5% in 2013. margin of error is ~+mn~4 percentage points. 1 Over the past three years there has been:
    • a drop in support for no legal recognition of same-sex relationships -- that is to treat same-sex couples as "legal strangers" or roommates,

    • a drop in support for civil unions, and

    • a notable increase in support for same-sex marriage at a rate of about 4 percentage points a year -- approximately double that of the nation as a whole:
Preference: 2010 2012 2013
Same-sex marriage
Civil unions, no marriage
No recognition at all
Other, Don't know, no answer
  • A Crain's/Ispos poll of 600 adults in Illinois, conducted from FEB 12 to 15, found that 50% support the SSM bill that has passed the Senate; 29% oppose it; 20% don't have an opinion or didn't respond. Support is highest in Chicago at 56%; slightly lower in the suburbs at 52%. Support by Illinois adults in the mostly rural southern part of of the state support is 48% -- still a plurality. margin of error is ~+mn~4 percentage points. Those opposed to the bill cited religious reasons most often (51%) compared with non-religious reasons at 48%. Charles Leonard, the director of the poll, issued a a statement saying that adults in the state are:

    "... moving their support for civil unions to support for full marriage." 2

    An interesting result of this poll is that people who support marriage equality are, on average, feeling more strongly about their position than those who are opposed to same-sex marriage. 37% among those who support the bill feel strongly about the issue, compared to only 19% of those who oppose the bill. From the standpoint of legislators this might cause more backlash from Democratic voters towards legislators that vote against the bill than backlash from Republican voters towards legislators that vote for the bill. 3

  • Oak Lawn Patch conducted an informal poll of its readers, asking them: "Should Illinois legalize same-sex marriage?" As of 2012-FEB-23, 310 readers had responded:
    • 221 (71%) said "Yes"
    • 89 (28%) said "No."

The answers are not particularly accurate because the people who answered the poll were self-selected and probably do not represent an accurate cross-section of Illinois adults. 4

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2013-FEB-26: House Committee narrowly passes SSM bill:

The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was narrowly passed by the House Executive Committee with a 6 to 5 vote. All of the Republican members of the committee and State Rep. Eddie Jackson (D) voted against the bill. The rest of the Democrats voted in favor. However, Rep. Luis Arroyo (D) who voted for the bill in the Committee said that he probably would not support it when it is voted upon in the House. He said:

"I donā€™t think I could vote for this bill on the floor of the House because of my religious beliefs and because of the churches in my district I represent and support."

The billā€™s main House sponsor, state Rep. Greg Harris (D) said:

"What we have here tonight is a chance to make an important step for the state of Illinois, to make Illinois a more just state, to make Illinois a state that respects all of its citizens equally under the law."

Rev. R. Herbert Martin testified in favor of the bill. He said:

"Today, as a son of the South, born in the little town of Mound Bayou, Miss., the largest all-black town in America, also as a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, an ordained member of the clergy and with an abiding conviction to justice and equality, I call upon you this evening to protect all Illinois residents under the law and support Senate Bill 10.

He also said that the bill "... enhances our ideals as a state and nation." He urged the committee members to "... ensure all citizens are included in the cathedral of democracy, that they may have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Kellie Fiedorek, litigation counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) testified in opposition to the bill. The ADF is a conservative Christian group who describes themselves as: "... a servant ministry building an alliance to keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family."

Although they describe themselves as advocating for marriage, they oppose same-sex marriage.

She said:

"Religious freedom belongs to all people. Itā€™s not confined to four walls of a church or to a certain individual. It belongs to every American. This bill fails to protect religious freedom, that is the constitutionally protected freedom that belongs to every American."

She does not appear to be referring to religious freedom in its traditional sense. That is: the freedom to hold various religious beliefs, to assemble in groups, to proselytize, to talk about one's faith, etc. Rather, she appears to be referring to the emerging definition of religious freedom: the religious freedom and liberty of a believer to hate, oppress, denigrate, or reduce the human rights of other people and groups. She is probably referring to the freedom of Illinois florists, owners of rental halls, stores selling wedding clothing, bakers of wedding cakes, wedding photographers, etc. to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to provide services to them for their marriage -- services that they provide to the general population. 5

Illinois has anti-discrimination laws on its books that prohibit discrimination by companies on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. There have been a few cases brought before Human Rights Commissions across the U.S. and Canada by engaged couples who were denied services available to the general public because of their sexual orientation and their intent to marry. Religious conservatives have been able to have same-sex marriage legislation include exemptions so that individuals and store providing services for weddings can refuse to serve same-sex couples.

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2013-APR-04: African-American clergy divided on SSM:

On APR-04, a group of seven conservative African American pastors joined with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, to oppose SSM. Bishop Willie James Campbell of the Chicago congregation, Church of God in Christ, said:

"We are biblically, spiritually against it. The Bible is our guide, our road map." 6

He also feels that same-sex marriage would destabilize the meaning of the institution of marriage.

Meanwhile, a group of about a dozen black religious leaders are urging legislators to approve the SSM bill in the House. The Rev. Richard Tolliver of St. Edmunds Church said:

"The African-American community, first of all, is not a monolithic community on this issue." 6

Later in April, a group of conservative African-American pastors and ministers led by state Senator James Meeks, released a series of robo-calls sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), NOM is the main national group opposed to marriage equality. 7

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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. "Support grows for gay marriage in Illinois," Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, 2013-FEB-14, at: This is a PDF file.
  2. Gred Hinz, "Illinoisans back gay marriage 50-29: Crain's/Ipsos poll," Crain's Chicago Business, 2013-FEB-19, at:
  3. "Illinois Gay Marriage Poll: Majority Support Marriage Equality In New Crain's/Ipsos Report," Huffington Post, 2013-FEB-19, at:
  4. Dan Lambert, "Cardinal George Says Same-Sex Marriage Is 'Against The Common Good', Do You Agree?," OakLawnPatch, 2013-JAN-03, at:
  5. Dave McKinney, "House panel OKs gay-marriage bill," Chicago Sun Times, 2013-FEB-27, at:
  6. "Illinois Gay Marriage: Influential Black Pastors Split On State's Marriage Equality Bill." Huffington Post, 2013-APR-05, at:
  7. "Illinois Gay Marriage: Black Clergy, NOM Team Up For Robo-Calls Opposing Equality Bill," Huffington Post, 2013-APR-30, at:

Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2013-FEB-17
Latest update: 2013-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson
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