Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Illinois, Gradual Change You Can Believe In

On Valentine’s Day, the Illinois Senate passed SB 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which, if enacted by the full General Assembly, will provide that:
[A]ll laws of this State applicable to marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children; parties to a marriage and their children, regardless of whether the marriage is of a same-sex or different-sex couple, have the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law; parties to a marriage are included in any definition or use of terms such as “spouse”, “family”, “immediate family”, “dependent”, “next of kin”, “wife”, “husband”, “bride”, “groom”, “wedlock”, and other terms that refer to or denote the spousal relationship, as those terms are used throughout the law, regardless of whether the parties to a marriage are of the same sex or different sexes; and, to the extent laws this State adopt, refer to, or rely upon provisions of federal law as applicable to this State, parties to a marriage of the same sex and their children shall be treated under the law of this State as if federal law recognized the marriages of same-sex couples in the same manner as the law of this State.
Today, marriage equality likely will take another step forward in my home state. From Chicagoist:
The Illinois House Executive Committee is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on Senate Bill 10, the legislation proposing marriage equality in Illinois, in the latest obstacle the bill must face before becoming law.
SB 10, aka the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, was passed by the Illinois Senate in an historic Valentine’s Day vote 34-21. Proponents of the bill expect it to clear committee and head to the House floor for a full vote, but they expect to see stronger opposition to the bill in the House than the Senate. The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), believe they have the necessary 60 votes for passage.
Chicagoist also notes that public opinion polls suggest roughly half of the state’s population supports marriage equality – including about 48% in rural downstate Illinois – and Gov. Quinn, a Democrat, has promised to sign the legislation if it passes the House.
Change is coming in Illinois, albeit slowly. In the meantime, it’s helpful to remember that real people are affected by this decision, even if the churches and other organizations who oppose marriage equality want those people to remain invisible. Real people, like my college friend William Hall and his husband, Rev. Kevin Tindell, who are featured in this video (beginning around the 2:27 mark) from Chicago’s ABC affiliate, which aired on May 12, 2012, the day Pres. Obama announced his support for same sex marriage:

My friend and his family deserve the same respect that my family deserves; they are every bit as valuable to the world as my family is; and nobody has the right to say that the love between Mr. Hall and Rev. Tindell, the entirety of their relationship, is any less worthy than the love between my wife and me, or between any other two genuinely committed adults. By this time next month, the state of Illinois may (finally) catch up with the rest of us.
As I like to say: America – Now Even More America-ish.
[Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]

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