State Senate Approved Measure on February 14, 2013
The Senate passed the measure 34-21 and now it goes to the House where supporters are optimistic that there will be enough votes to pass it. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, pleased that the Senate passed the bill, has said that he would sign the legislation and called the bill “historic”.
The bill was sponsored by Heather Steans, a Democrat Illinois Senator. Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate and the House. Illinois, the fifth largest state, has allowed gay unions since 2011.
The Chicago Tribune Endorses Gay Marriage
The eighth largest newspaper in the United States, The Chicago Tribune, on February 18, 2013, in an editorial, endorsed same-sex marriage and said it was “the fair thing to do.” A surprising viewpoint for a newspaper noted for its conservatism, the newspaper “urged the House to finish the job.”
Here’s what the editorial stated:
Allowing same-sex couples to wed under the law would not devalue traditional marriage. It would affirm the bedrock values that underlie and sustain such unions.
Marriage promotes stable families, safeguards the interests of children and rewards committed relationships.
Recognizing same-sex marriages demonstrates respect for personal freedoms and keeps government out of the intimate affairs of citizens. Many people in same-sex relationships are adopting or giving birth to children; this provides the security of a legal commitment for those children. It’s the fair thing to do.
Chicago Tribune Reflects Opinion of At least Half of U.S.
A 1996 Gallup poll found that twenty-seven percent of Americans were in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. Now it’s at fifty percent with the strongest support coming from voters under 30.
Status of States’ Gay Marriage
Although most states ban gay marriage in their constitutions, nine states, mostly in New England, allow same-sex marriage and the District of Columbia. Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota have constitutions which don’t ban gay unions yet don’t allow them in their respective states. However, legislation is expected to be considered later this year. In Rhode Island, the House of Representatives passed a same-sex marriage bill, but the Senate has not taken up the measure yet. Maryland, Delaware, and Minnesota recently passed gay marriage with the voters.
Opposition to Gay Marriage
The Illinois legislation has faced strong opposition from Catholic church leaders in the state. Some senators warned the legislation as written may not protect religious institutions enough: and churches could be sued if they don’t perform gay-marriage ceremonies.
Those who are opposed want to keep marriage between a man and a woman as it is defined in constitutional amendments in about thirty states. Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay unions, says “Chicago is not representative of the Midwest or Middle America.”
The U.S. Supreme Court Decision Influential
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in two cases tied to gay marriage in March 2013. Justices may be less likely to make a landmark ruling on gay marriage than to hand down narrow decisions that will keep the fight for gay marriage settled by the states.