| The same-sex marriage debate continued in Illinois, while the U.S. Supreme Court took it to the national stage late last month with their discussions on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And everyone, from state and national legislators to former baseball players, is being asked to choose a side.
In Illinois, sponsors of the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” are still pushing for its passage of the floor of the Illinois House. The Senate passed the bill back in February. Two Republican representatives from Chicago, Ed Sullivan Jr. (Mudelein) and Ron Sandack (Downers Grove) recently announced their plans for vote for the bill. They are the only two Republicans who have gone on record with their plans to vote yes.
Another noted Chicagoan, Ernie Banks, also voiced his support for same-sex marriage last month. “Mr. Cub” signed a letter from Illinois Unites for Marriage. According to the letter, “In sports, any time a player is not treated with fairness and respect, the game is diminished. Similarly, treating any group of people as second-class citizens hurts us all, because discrimination is wrong no matter whom the target is.”
Religious leaders in the state have taken opposing stands, with supporters of same-sex marriage claiming it is a civil rights issue. “This is about equality and justice,” said Richard Tolliver, pastor of St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church on Chicago’s south side. “This is a matter of equal protection under the law for all citizens. This is not a religious issue.”
On the other side of the issue, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George was joined by members of the African American Clergy Coalition in stating that changing the meaning of marriage “will not serve the common good of our people and will certainly lose the sense of family that is the basis of our understanding of who we are.”
Nationally, some lawmakers made their opinions known as the U.S. Supreme Court met in late March (a decision is expected this summer). U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R - IL) announced his support for same-sex marriage April 2, saying, “Our time on this Earth is limited; I know better than most. Life comes down to who you live and who loves you back – government has no place in the middle.” Kirk is currently recovering from a stroke. He joins Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who announced his support for same-sex marriage last month after his son announced he was gay.
The Pew Research Center released a poll last month that showed 49% of adults favored same-sex marriage while 44% opposed it. This is an increase from polling in 2003, which showed just 33% supported same-sex marriage with 58% against it.