CHICAGO, October 1, 2009. Equality Illinois is happy to announce the introduction of Equal Marriage Bill in Illinois State Senate, which would legalize marriage between two adults of the same sex. The bill was announced today by State Senator Heather Steans.
“This is not an issue of sacred versus secular - there are plenty of synagogues and churches that both recognize and perform same-sex marriages,” said Bernard Cherkasov, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Illinois. “Rather, marriage is a civil right – plain and simple. The state cannot have a civil institution of marriage – with its plethora of benefits, rights, and responsibilities – and exclude from it an entire class of citizens.”
The bill would provide for state recognition of same-sex marriage, while ensuing that religious institutions are not required to perform any marriages that inconsistent with their religious practices. This is a companion bill to the one introduced in the State House of Representatives by Representative Greg Harris, HB178. The House bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Deb Mell, Sara Feigenholtz, Constance Howard, Harry Osterman and John Fritchey. Equality Illinois applauds the sponsoring legislators for their leadership.
The time for full equality in the land of Lincoln is now! But the passage of this bill is not guaranteed. In the months to come, we will need your help in reaching your state legislators to let them know how important equality is to you. Moreover, the same religious political extremist forces that are fighting marriage equality in other states are mobilizing hard in Illinois, planning lobby days and raising money. We must not let the anger of that vocal minority to drown out the voices of fairness across this great state. Please help us in our mission to achieve relationship recognition – join us now – we cannot do our work without your financial support.
We are also working to ensure marriage equality on the federal level. Two weeks ago Equality Illinois announced introduction of the bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and co-signed an open letter to members of Congress, stating in part: “When DOMA was enacted, its harms were not yet fully appreciated because same-sex couples were not able to marry in any U.S. state. Since then, eight states and the District of Columbia have recognized equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, and thousands of couples have married. Because of DOMA, the federal government does not honor their legal commitment and the needs of their families, even though these couples have assumed the obligations of civil marriage under state law and contribute as citizens and taxpayers.” The letter was co-signed by about 30 organizations, and can be viewed at our website.
Equality Illinois is working hard on the issues of marriage equality and relationship recognition, as part of its mission to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Illinois. But we cannot succeed in our work without your support. Please donate now to support our work.