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Marriage equality bill progresses in Illinois

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 19:03

image Marriage Equality Bill Katrina Reed Brittany Hardy

Photo by Brittany Hardy/Prospectus News

Parkland student Katrina Reed displays her support of marriage equality.

An Illinois bill that would make it legal for same-sex couples to marry gained traction in both the Senate and the House. On February 15, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 34 to 21. On February 25, the House committee voted the bill to move forward to the Full House with a vote of 6-5.

If the bill passes, Illinois will be the tenth state in the US to legalize same-sex marriage. With the House scheduled to vote on the bill next week, its fate will soon become apparent.

After the Senate hearing on February 15, it was easy for some to become excited about a new bill. Student Development Advocate and Advisor for Parkland Pride Tanino Minneci was very happy with the decision.

“I am thrilled that the Illinois Senate has voted to pass the marriage equality bill because it's just another step forward in the struggle to honor LGBTQ families,” Minneci said. “Our country is on a tipping point of change in the way we treat, recognize, celebrate LGBTQ people and relationships and the passage of this bill is reflective of that shift.”

Student Development Advocate Jan Thom was also excited for the recent passing of the bill in the Senate.

“I was happy to see that the bill passed since I believe that gay marriage should be legal,” Thom said. “Recently, it's been embarrassing to live in a state with a reputation for fiscal mismanagement and corruption, so at least if this passes we could be proud that the state has done something right.”

After the bill passed through the Senate, the next step was for it to go before a House committee. The committee heard the bill and from people on both sides of the issue before voting that it be sent to the House for a vote.

Some of the arguments from the opposing side of the issue were brought up at this hearing. One of the people who spoke against the bill was Jennifer Roback-Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute.

“I urge you to reject any other legislation that would redefine the most basic structural feature of marriage by removing the dual gender requirement for marriage,” Roback-Morse said. “Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. Making same-sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples will introduce new and deeper inequalities into society.”

Another individual who spoke against the bill that night was Kellie Fiedorek, a member of Alliance Defending Freedom, who brought up other reasons for opposing the bill.

“I analyzed this bill and it contains no language that will provide comprehensive safeguards for the religious freedom of citizens and religious organizations in the state of Illinois,” Fiedorek explained. “No language that purports to address, let alone protect, the right to religious freedom of every citizen."

Democratic Representative Luis Arroyo explained that he’d vote to pass it to the House but that he couldn’t guarantee to vote for it once it got there.

"I don't want to be the one to not give you guys the opportunity to discuss this bill on the floor of the General Assembly. I don't want to be the obstacle for this bill," Arroyo said. "But, I'm going to tell you that I don't think I can vote for this bill on the floor of the House because of my religious beliefs and because of the churches in my district. I will be voting this bill to get it out of committee, but I can't guarantee you on the floor."

After the voting was done, it some made people who were excited for the bill nervous. Graphic Design major Shelby Richardson, a member of the Parkland Pride group, explained why.

“I’m a little worried,” Richardson explained. “This bill is very important for many families in Illinois. It is a basic right that everyone should have. No one should be told they can't marry who they love.”

Thom is also worried about the bill after it narrowly passed through the committee.

“It was so close yesterday and Democrats can't be counted on to vote in favor of gay marriage,” Thom explained. “One Democrat said he voted for the bill just to get it out of committee and said he will vote against it when it comes before the full house next week. He said this was because of his constituents' religious objections.”

This is a topic that both sides of the issue feel strongly about. And both sides will be watching closely when the House finally votes on the bill in the near future.

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