Thursday, December 13, 2012

Illinois: The Future Is Now


As I mentioned earlier in the week, my home state continues to make progress on the equality front. On Monday, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said he was hopeful that the Illinois General Assembly would send him a bill providing gay and lesbian couples equal marriage rights when legislators reconvene after the holidays. The Chicago Tribune reported:
Rep. Greg Harris, the chief sponsor of the gay marriage bill, said he was encouraged by Quinn’s comments but acknowledged the issue may take a back seat during the lame duck session.
“At this point, we will call it when we have the votes there,” said Harris, D-Chicago. “We can see the trend of public opinion having shifted dramatically… but it takes time for legislators to figure that out. And there are a number of other key votes, pensions is obviously number one among them.”
Today, though, Rep. Harris seemed a bit more upbeat. According to our local NPR affiliate:
Two Chicago Democrats say they think the time is right to call for legislation legalizing gay marriage in Illinois.
It comes a year and a half after the state legalized same-sex civil unions.
State Rep. Greg Harris and State Sen. Heather Steans are supporters of the bill.
Talking together by phone on Thursday, they said political and public sentiment is rapidly changing in favor of gay marriage.
“We can’t think of a good reason why government should treat one family with less respect than another in Illinois,” Harris said.
“We are hearing a real shift in tone and dialogue amongst our colleagues, too,” Steans said. “We think we’re in striking distance and really want to build on this momentum.”
As an aside, it would be nice if our major media outlets would stop referring to it as “gay marriage” – after all, I don’t refer to mine as a “straight marriage” – but the more important point is this: Time marches on. The future happens. And it looks like Illinois may be poised to join it.
In the meantime (and I know I’m late getting around to this), enjoy this outstanding photo-essay celebrating the first day of marriage equality in Washington state. (Special thanks to Emily  L. Hauser of In My Head, for bringing this to my attention.)
You know what I see when I view those photographs? I see normal. I see people wanting, in a sense, the most mundane thing in life, but also the most remarkable and the most vital: The undying love and affection of a fellow human being. I see the same thing I see whenever two people commit their lives to one another. I see hope.
If people still have a problem with that, well, we better get a better understanding …

Garland Jeffreys, “Modern Lovers,” from Escape Artist (1981)
The other day on Twitter I made this observation: At age 5 I watched my parents fly the flag at half-staff after Martin Luther King was assassinated. At age 50, I’ve lived to see nine states adopt marriage equality. And Illinois soon may be the tenth.
It’s really true. America is becoming more America-ish.

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