Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yes on Senate Bill 1716!

Friends. Family. Illinoisans. The Illinois legislature may vote on Senate Bill 1716 next week, which would grant civil unions to Illinois. For those of you who already support marriage equality for gay couples, please call your state rep. NOW and express your support for this bill. It will not go to a vote unless there is enough support, so we need to go on the record with our representatives.

To those of you who aren't sure whether you should support this bill, here's why you should. The bill is for civil unions, not "marriage" for gay couples - this is a great way to grant gay couples desperately needed rights NOW. Families with same-sex couples and aging same-sex couples can greatly benefit from the rights that civil unions offer, and it's a great way for Illinois to show its support for its gay citizenry. You probably know someone who is gay; do you think that they should have anything less than the same rights you have - to marry a committed partner that they love?

People who oppose this bill are either bigoted against or just uncomfortable with gay people for whatever reason (traditionalism, religion, etc.). Listen to any argument against gay marriage (you can read plenty of them in the Prop 8 decision) - it's virtually impossible to take that view without somehow implying that there is just something wrong with LGBT people.

However, as the American civil rights struggle has taught us, the personal views and judgment of the citizenry - even a majority of the citizenry - is not a reason to deny a fundamental right to a despised minority. Civil marriage is a fundamental right and has nothing to do with religion (no matter what Cardinal George says). I'm sure most gay people couldn't care less if religions choose to recognize their civil unions or not: what they are fighting for is the right to get the same state and federal benefits of marriage (in the form of civil unions, in this instance) that are available to other committed couples in the State of Illinois.

I have feared for a long time that the country won't be able to give same-sex couples the right to civil unions or marriage until the baby boomer generation dies off. (Studies show that younger generations are far more familiar with LGBT folks and, thus, far more accepting of them.) But I really hope we will be able to get civil unions for Illinois next week. Other states have enacted them, as well as full same-sex marriage rights, and the idea of "marriage" has not eroded in those states. Again, the only reason to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is personal judgment against them, and that is simply not enough to continue the status quo of inequality.

Call your state rep now!!

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