'Gay marriage' bill stalls in Illinois legislature

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Senate Chamber of the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois. Credit: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

An Illinois bill to redefine marriage came to a halt in the last days of the legislative session, leading marriage advocates to criticize the notion that “gay marriage” is inevitable.

“This is a tremendous victory for the grassroots in Illinois,” said National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown on Jan. 4.

“Thousands of people of faith telephoned, emailed and wrote to Senators to oppose the redefinition of marriage,” he explained. “They overcome the machine that so often rules in Illinois politics, and they showed that nothing is inevitable about same-sex ‘marriage.’”
 
Brown praised the Illinois Senate for “resisting the push of political activists to redefine marriage and to impose a same-sex ‘marriage’ scheme on the people of Illinois.”

Illinois State Sen. Heather Steans and State Rep. Greg Harris, both Chicago Democrats, tried to pass the “gay marriage” bill before the Jan. 9 end of the legislative session. It passed a Senate committee but lacked support to pass the Senate and was not brought to the floor, the Associated Press reported.
 
The failure was in part due to the absence of three senators due to family commitments. Supporters of the bill said the votes of the missing lawmakers – Republican Suzi Schmidt and Democrats Jeffrey Schoenberg and James Clayborne – were critical.

Brown said the Republican Senate Caucus “stood firm against redefining marriage” while “several stalwart and principled Democrats” also opposed the bill.
 
“We are proud of these legislators for doing the right thing and upholding the value of marriage and the concept that children deserve a mother and a father,” he said.
 
Twenty-five homosexual couples have filed a legal challenge to Illinois law, which does not recognize same-sex unions as marriages. Backers of the state bill have also pledged to try again in the next session.

Brown said the fight against the legislation in the upcoming session will be “even more difficult than this one” but added that grassroots action can preserve “true marriage,” which is “something that is profoundly good for society.”

The Illinois Catholic bishops opposed the legislation. In a Jan. 1 letter, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and the archdiocese’s six auxiliary bishops said that laws recognizing same-sex “marriage” create “a legal fiction” and would force the people of the state to “pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.”
 
The Illinois legislature passed a civil unions bill in 2010 that gave the rights of civil marriage to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who contract a union.

Although this legislation claimed to protect religious freedom, it led to the end of foster care and adoption placement service contracts with Catholic Charities throughout the state, since these agencies would not place children with unmarried or homosexual couples.

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