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Religious Tolerance logo

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

2013-APR/MAY: African-American clergy (Cont'd).
Governor Quinn urges passage of the SSM bill.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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2013-APR: African-American clergy divided on SSM (Cont'd):

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.

Two different news sources reported that either Pastor Byron Brazier of the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago or Bishop Willie James Campbell of Church of God in Christ -- or perhaps both -- made identical comments in opposition to the bill saying:

"We're not standing against something; we're standing for something. We're standing for the Scriptures as they are written."

Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor at Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago said:

"We understand the Scriptures to teach that marriage is between man and woman. This law being passed would cause a great ripple amongst the faith community and it would reduce what we stand for."

Laura Washington, a political analyst and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times said:

"The church and politics is a very constant mix in Chicago and in Illinois. These ministers have megachurches, large congregations. They have a lot of clout in their communities and their members listen to them and take advice from them. The ministers often use their pulpits to sway votes in one direction or another."

She also said that increasing numbers of African-American clergy in Chicago and elsewhere are framing same-sex marriage as a civil rights matter, and supporting marriage equality. She continued:

"I think there's some hypocrisy involved when you're talking about ministers and elected officials who both benefited from the civil rights movement then [turned] their backs on others who have been left out of the system because of being different." 1,2

Webmaster's comment (Bias alert): Two comments:

  • Concerning Pastor Brazier's/Bishop Campbell's comment: Since he/they interpret the Bible as being opposed to marriage equality, by all means he/they should advocate that his church never marry same-sex couples. But the state and federal governments are required by the U.S. Constitution, a secular document, to treat people equally. That principle caused the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize interracial marriage back in 1967. Since the U.S. is not yet a theocracy, it seems to me to be a good principle for state governments to conform to the constitution by achieving marriage equality for the LGBT community today.

  • Concerning Bishop Trotter's comment: He is correct. If and when SSM is allowed in Illinois, it would weaken arguments against same-sex marriage. Experience in other states has shown that when a state achieves marriage equality, public acceptance of same-sex marriages increases rapidly. I am pleasantly surprised that Bishop Trotter said: "We understand the Scriptures to teach that marriage is between man and woman. (Emphasis mine). This is the first time in many months that I have seen a conservative religious leader depart from the usual expression that: "The Scriptures teach...." He at least recognizes that other Christians can and do approach the same Bible in different ways and reach different conclusions on what it teaches .

Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George is also opposed to the marriage equality bill. Cardinal George based his comments on his church's concept of Natural Law. He said:

"Not every love, not every friendship is marital. So you have to ask, as I think my brother pastors have asked, ‘What is the nature of marriage?’ And that goes back to a sexual expression that’s based upon the complementarity of men and women, and is the way in which the future of the human race is assured. And anything outside of that is morally wrong." 3

Webmaster's comment: (Bias alert):

Their view of the nature and purposes of marriage does not appear to be shared by the majority of Illinois adults, the majority of American adults, and the majority of Roman Catholic laity. A growing majority of the latter support all civil marriages -- either by an opposite-sex or same-sex couple. Many view marriage as a lifetime public commitment by a couple to care for and support each other for the rest of their lives, perhaps with a child or children, and perhaps without.

I really get peeved when I see comments like the Cardinal's. In my view, he denigrates the status of married couples who adopt children, for whatever reason. He also denigrates the status of married couples who are beyond child-bearing years. I have had one of each type of marriage during my lifetime, and consider both as valid marriages.

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2013-MAY-09: Governor urges action on HB 5170, the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act:"

One factor influencing the Governor's request may be the current support for SSM by a substantial majority of Illinois adults. Another may be the recent successful push in three states -- Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island -- to legalize SSM during the first half of 2013-MAY.

He called on House members to consider HB 5170, which has been dormant for 80 days. He said:

"Illinois passing marriage equality into law, I think, sends a great signal to the people of our state and the people of America. So, it's important that Illinois and the House of Representatives get moving. I believe a majority exists to get this bill passed through the House onto my desk so I can sign it into law. ... I think, you know, it's time to vote. We've waited now three months, and it's, I think, plenty of time for people to reflect on it. And now it's time to pass it." 4

The current session of the Legislature ends on MAY-31. If the bill is not passed by the House by that date, then SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Act, will probably be voted upon in the fall of 2013.

James Bennett, Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal said"

"We're in a place where we feel we've done as much as we can do. We've made phone calls, people have visited -- we're comfortable that we've done our part."

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said that he was confident that the recent victories for marriage equality in Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island would give some momentum to the Illinois bill. He said:

"The truth is, those victories came about from momentum contributed from what we are building in Illinois, and our victory will come from momentum from those states—there is national momentum on this issue." 5

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2013-MAY-20: LGBT leaders say that bill has votes needed to pass the House:

Jim Bennett, Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal, said:

"I have absolutely no doubt we're going to be done with this by May 31. I believe that this bill is going to pass."

Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, implied that they have the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. He said:

"I believe we're there. The cake is baked. We're waiting for the icing."

The Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition has scheduled a community meeting for the afternoon of MAY-22 to discuss the potential vote. 6

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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. David Schaper, "Will Ill. Legalize Gay Marriage Before Legislature Adjourns?," National Public Radio, 2013-MAY-30, at:
  2. Cardinal George: Same-Sex Marriage ‘Will Not Serve The Common Good’," CBS Local/Chicago, 2013-APR-05, at:
  3. "Cardinal, black pastors denounce same-sex marriage," WGN Web Desk, 2013-APR-05, at:
  4. Zach Bucheit, "Quinn prods House to vote on same-sex marriage, says votes are there," 2013-MAY-09, at:
  5. Matt Simonette, "Marriage Countdown: Final weeks for Illinois gay marriage bill," Chicago Pride, 2013-MAY-16, at:
  6. Kate Sosin, "Advocates: votes are there for marriage bill," Windy City Times, 2013-MAY-20, at:

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