As the political battle rages in the Illinois legislature between proponents of CIVIL marriage equality and the forces of bigotry and ignorance, the Chicago Tribune in a main page editorial has come out in support of civil marriage equality. Among other reasons for approval, the editorial cites increased security for the children of LGBT couples and increased societal stability in general. Rather than weakening marriage as an institution, same sex civil marriage will strengthen it. The editorial also addresses the issue that underlies opposition to same sex marriage - religious based discrimination, something that has no place in the civil laws of a secular nation. In this regard anti-gay churches such as the Catholic Church remain free to set the rules within their club and need not perform same sex marriages. Sadly, the Christianists continue to demand that their beliefs control the lives of other citizens. Here are editorial highlights:
The Illinois Senate may vote soon on a bill letting same-sex couples enter matrimony on the same terms as their opposite-sex counterparts. Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, the chief House sponsor, thinks it has a good chance of success. Gov. Pat Quinn has indicated he will sign the measure if it reaches his desk.
Let's hope he gets the opportunity. Marriage equality is a once-radical concept that has rapidly gone mainstream. . . . . Nine states and the District of Columbia permit it. In November, voters in three states approved it by popular referendum — the first such victories after 32 defeats.
President Barack Obama, who was once opposed, is now in favor, and he has urged the General Assembly to act. So has Mayor Rahm Emanuel. On Wednesday, the bill got a surprising endorsement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.
It's time for the Legislature to authorize same-sex marriage as a matter of policy that would advance social goals valuable not only to gays and lesbians but to everyone in the state.
The most crucial gain is to afford protections to the young. Many gay couples have biological children by one partner or the other, and many others are adoptive parents. With gays as well as straights, marriage serves to promote commitment, stability and financial solvency. If same-sex couples can make the legal commitment and choose to assume all the obligations that come with matrimony, they will be more likely to stay together.
That's good for kids. It's also good for communities, since it minimizes the unwanted side effects of broken homes.
Authorizing same-sex marriage also works to break down age-old prejudice, discrimination and even violence against gays. Their growing acceptance as full members of society has been one of the most dramatic civil rights stories of our time — but it still has some distance to go.
Much of the opposition stems from religious concerns, such as those cited by Cardinal Francis George, who has urged a "no" vote. We fully understand and respect the cardinal's view that same-sex marriage violates natural law. But nothing in this bill affects the church's authority to define what is right for Catholics. It recognizes the difference between religious rites and civil institutions.
About 250 Illinois clergy recently signed a statement affirming, "There can be no justification for the law treating people differently on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." That's exactly right. The General Assembly should waste no time making marriage equality a reality.