Springfield, Illinois --- The state of Illinois is poised to be the tenth state to extend marriage equality to their LGBT residents, as the State Senate passed marriage equality legislation on Valentine’s Day 34 - 21. The bill now moves to the General Assembly for debate and consideration.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois claimed that lawmakers are wantonly changing the definition of marriage without understanding the consequences. "This legislation callously redefines a bedrock institution of our society and deteriorates the free exercise of religion in our state," said Robert Gilligan, the group's executive director.
The legislation provides an exemption for priests, ministers, rabbis, pastors, etc., and they are not required to officiate at LGBT wedding ceremonies. The bill also exempts religious institutions and churches from granting access to their facilities, for an LGBT wedding or wedding reception.
Chicago Tribune reporters Ray Long and Rafael Guerrero, wrote about the debate in the Senate.
During a nearly two-hour, emotional debate, sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans urged colleagues to join her in a vote for the "history books" that would remove gay and lesbian couples from "second-class status."
Same-sex partners want to marry for the same reasons as heterosexual couples, including for love, commitment and "shared responsibility with that one, unique, irreplaceable person," said Steans, D-Chicago.
The church-based opposition drew heated comments from Chicago Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval, who called himself a former seminarian who witnessed "homosexuality, alcoholism and even men that were pedophiles."
Lashing out at Catholics and other church officials who strongly opposed the legislation, Sandoval said, "Our religious leaders have failed us."The measure requires 60 votes for passage in the General Assembly, and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the gay legislator and sponsor of the bill in the lower House, believes that Democrats have a little work to do to get to the magic number.
Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) has pledged to sign the measure as soon as it’s passed.
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