The Illinois General Assembly is expected to vote today on same-sex civil unions legislation in what gay rights advocates expect to be a very close vote. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he expects state lawmakers to approve the bill and the governor has voiced his support.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716), which is co-sponsored by openly gay Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), has come under fire from conservative groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Washington D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which have lobbied hard against the bill.
Cardinal Francis George, the head of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said, "The enactment of marriage-like benefits in civil union legislation will intensify the legal attack on marriage."
The crucial piece of legislation does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance. The bill would not force religious denominations to recognize or sanctify relationships they oppose.
Requesting anonymity, a source in Springfield tells ChicagoPride.com that State Sen. and Rev. James Meeks, who represents the 15th District on Chicago's south side, has allegedly been working behind the scenes with other African-American ministers to derail passage in the House as an effort to keep the legislation from making it to the Senate, thus relieving the prominent minister from declaring his vote, for or against, on record.
"Rev. Meeks has been playing fast and loose with the LGBT community," said the source.
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