|Marriage for all: Senate says yes|
|Written by The Vidette Editorial Board|
|Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:40|
Illinois is very close to becoming the 10th state to legalize gay marriage in the United States.
This, in and of itself, is monumental. In the near future, there is a (some would argue good) chance that every person in this state will have equal marriage rights.
The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is one decision away from becoming a law that will allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Illinois. Last Thursday, the Senate passed the vote by 34-21, sending the vote to the House. As of press time, the House had not made a decision. If approved, Governor Quinn has already agreed to sign the bill.
The debate in the Senate was definitely heated, but as the numbers show, it was passed by a rather wide margin.
“It is time Illinois get rid of its second-class status for a segment of our residents and allow everyone the opportunity to reap the emotional, social and economic benefits and obligations of marriage,” Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, said.
There appears to be a slight margin of support in favor of the bill in the House, though there are many representatives who are concerned with it interfering with religious rights and freedoms.
However, the Senate approved an amendment that made it clear that no church will be forced to perform any ceremony. It’s up to the church whether or not they want to allow gay marriages or receptions.
According to the New York Times, “opponents expressed concern that religious-backed institutions like schools, businesses and hospitals would not be covered under those same legal safeguards.”
Kyle McCarter, a republican representative, said, “People have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
McCarter’s words are hard to accept. On one hand, it is not fair for religious-based groups to have to perform ceremonies they don’t believe in (though how schools, businesses and hospitals play into this is unclear).
However, religious-based groups have been defining marriage for the rest of us for the past thousands of years. They have decided that marriage is between a man and a woman. But now that same-sex couples are looking to redefine marriage (aka marriage for everyone), it becomes an issue.
Is this fair? That one group of people has the right to make laws for another? That they have the audacity to say, “You can’t define marriage for us” when they’ve been defining marriage for them? Sounds a bit hypocritical.
Here’s what this act will mean, if passed: Every single person in Illinois will be able to get married.
It means no one will be denied a civil right because of who they love. No one will feel like their love isn’t adequate, or that they are inferior to those who have always been allowed to be married.
But what it shouldn’t mean is people getting angry about it. There should be some level of acceptance on everyone’s part. The bill will not require anyone to perform any ceremony, nor will it require anyone to support gay marriage. But it will require the acceptance that everyone in this state will have equal marriage rights.
Like it or not, it has the very real possibility of becoming a law. Times are changing, and this is the bill to prove it.
Whoever you are, and whatever you believe, try to be happy that your family, your friends or the girl in your chemistry class will have the same rights to marry as everyone else. This is not something to protest. This is a time for us to be proud that Illinois is a decision away from accepting one of the fundamental values we stand on: liberty for all.