In a 9 to 5 vote, Marriage equality in Illinois took one step forward today. Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, came to a vote in the Illinois Executive Committee in Springfield. This bill introduced to the Illinois Senate by Chicago Democrat Heather Steans, gives the right for same sex couples to have and enjoy the same rights and privileges that heterosexual couples enjoy and protects religious freedom.
First to speak before the committee was Danielle Cook. Through her at times emotional words, she spoke of the love and committed relationship she has with her partner Susie Hutton.
“Our Love defines each and every aspect of our lives. It provides comfort and shelter.” Danielle Cook
She spoke of the confusion that many have with the current civil union law that was enacted recently. She spoke on the awkwardness of trying to explain what a civil union is. She spoke on the hurt that society doesn’t see their relationship as a marriage because it falls outside others idea of what marriage is. Through out her time before the committee, her overall tone was one of wanting respect.
I found the words of Rev. Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle, a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) who spoke in support of the bill, very encouraging. I think it is important to mention that the ELCA voted recently to allow the pastors through out their denomination to choose whether or not to perform marriage ceremonies. Rev. Anderson-Hurdle, a mother of 3 and is in a heterosexual marriage, has performed many same sex ceremonies in her role as pastor. She spoke on liberty for all, respect and commitment. She believes when there is no marriage equality, it creates a situation that gay and lesbian individuals are made second class citizens and are denied the same basic rights that those in heterosexual marriages live out every day.
"Liberty and justice for all, not a select few." Rev. Anderson-Hurdle "This is a matter of legal, civil and human rights."
Though the opposition talked about the loss of religious freedom, this bill will not force any pastor or clergy to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
From here Senate Bill 10 will move to the floor for a vote. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat from Chicago, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, he plans for the Senate to vote on — and pass — a bill that would legalize marriage for all couples by Valentines day. President Cullerton has no doubt that the bill has the necessary votes in the Senate to pass the bill on to the House. In a statement following the vote, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said "Marriage equality is a matter of fairness and equal rights under law." Once the House passes the bill, Governor Quinn has stated he will sign it immediately.
"Now is the time for the next step in providing equal rights to all people in Illinois." Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
Equality is slowing making headway in this state and country. When Bill 10 passes and is sign, Illinois will be the 10th state to have true marriage equality!