Thursday, February 14, 2013

EXTRA: It’s up to Mr. Speaker now

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, managed to keep his promise. The state Senate gave its approval to the concept of gay couples being able to marry, and it did so on Valentine’s Day.
HARRIS: A non-stance on marriage issue

Not that there’s going to be a rush on wedding chapels in the coming hours. We still need to get the Illinois House of Representatives to back the idea – although with the leadership there of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, it would seem likely that the issue will eventually get through the legislative process.

THEN, GOV. PAT Quinn can have his big moment of signing the measure into law; putting Illinois in a class with Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington – along with our sister state of Iowa.

But on Thursday, it was up to the state Senate, which gave the measure a 34-21 vote – with newly-elected state Sens. Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor, and Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, taking the weak stance of voting “present” (because they know how much grief they would get from the party faithful if they had voted “no”).

The actual debate on the issue was rather predictable. State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields (a.k.a., Congressional candidate wishing to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr.) managed to throw in a reference to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., while voting “yes.” But state Sen. William Brady, R-Bloomington, who hopes to run again for Illinois governor in 2014, voted “no.”

While state Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Barrington Hills, tried arguing that considering gay marriage was a “distraction,” as legislators should do nothing more this spring session than ponder the mess that they have made through decades of inaction on pension funding.

ALTHOUGH IT WAS noted that one Republican did manage to shake off the threats from the ideologues that they would single out for electoral abuse any GOPer who dared to support this particular bill.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, was swayed by the amendment that allows churches and other religious organizations to refuse to perform such ceremonies – if it goes against their beliefs.
VAN PELT: Keeping quiet with 'present'

Which is why it is such a crock when some people make the argument that this somehow forces people to violate their own social beliefs. Nobody is forcing them to marry a same-gender individual.

And nobody is forcing them to perform the ceremony. The new law merely means that the ideologues can no longer force their own beliefs on others – which is what the General Assembly really did back in 1996 when they went out of their way to amend Illinois law to say that gay marriage was not legitimate.

THAT WAS JUST a mean-spirited effort by the then-Republican-dominated Legislature that hopefully will soon become an obsolete provision of the state statutes.

One that ought to be obsolete on the grounds that permitting marriage for all is really about not going out of their way to impose their thoughts on others. What’s wrong with the idea that people ought to mind their own business?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The bill, along with a complete roll call in case you want to look up your own personal senator's stance, is all on the record.

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