The Illinois Senate tomorrow is expected to vote on a same-sex marriage equality bill, which most expect will pass. Last week, for the second time, the bill was passed in committee. Should the Senate vote to expand the institution of marriage to include same-sex couples, marriage equality activists believe the House could take up the bill as early as next month. Illinois’ Democratic Governor, Pat Quinn, will sign the bill if it reaches his desk, making the Land of Lincoln the tenth state (and eleventh area including Washington, D.C.) in the nation to support marriage equality.
“We’re pretty confident” about tomorrow’s vote, Anthony Martinez, Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy organization in Illinois told The New Civil Rights Movement today via telephone.
Martinez says he’s hoping for bipartisan support for tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day vote. If the Illinois Senate tomorrow passes the marriage bill, which offers religious institutions very strong protections, Martinez is hopeful the House will recognize the importance of the legislation, and take the bill up next month. Martinez also suggested he’s cautiously optimistic that with work the House will pass the bill, and allow Governor Quinn to sign it into law.
“Hundreds of religious leaders have signed a letter in support of the equal marriage bill that is currently before the Illinois General Assembly,” Rick Garcia, Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project and Senior Policy Advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda said last week in a statement, adding, “We are heartened that once again mainstream religious leaders in our state stand with the LGBT community.”
Not all mainstream religious leaders are supportive, unfortunately.
Illinois is home to staunchly anti-gay Roman Catholic Cardinal Francis George, who last month issued a letter stating same-sex marriages are “a legal fiction,” last year said that the marriages of same-sex couples are merely “friendships,” and has claimed that gay people must live celibate lives or risk God’s love. In 2011, then-Archbihop George warned that a gay pride parade could “morph into something like the Klu Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”
Before last year’s November election, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, Illinois, Thomas John Paprocki, said any Catholic who votes for any Democrat very well may go to Hell, because their vote would make them “morally complicit” in sin.
Nevertheless, Thursday’s Senate vote looks promising, and hopefully the House next month follows suit.
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