Illinois will not be the 13th state to legalize same sex marriages...at least not yet.
In a stunning set back to gay right advocates, the Illinois House of Representatives did not cast a vote on the marriage equality bill because it's sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, conceded that he did not have enough votes to get it approved in the chamber. The Illinois Senate had already passed the bill 34-21 and a victory in the house seemed likely considering Democrats hold a super-majority in that chamber as well. Republican opposition meant nothing in this case because they neither had the votes to defeat the measure nor filibuster it.
Despite having 71 of the 118 seats in the Illinois House, Democrats could not get a simple majority to vote yes on legalizing gay marriage.
Rep. Harris is a classy guy, so he refused to name names. Thus, we don't know how many Democrats refused to commit to a yes vote. We do know that two Republicans publicly committed to vote for the measure so that means at least 13 Democrats said no. Several more Republicans will likely support the measure when it comes to a vote so the number of Democrats who have not warmed up to marriage equality is probably greater than 15.
I am not writing today to debate the merits of the bill or get into another grand discussion about the biblical versus legal definition of marriage. Rather, I was moved to write by the hypocrisy of liberals who are quick to ostracize Republicans who take an anti-gay marriage position, but can't find their voice when Democrats do the same thing.
There are three groups of Illinois Democrats who are currently holding up the gay marriage bill: Hispanic representatives in Chicago, Black lawmakers from Chicago's south and west sides (and near suburbs) and socially conservative Democrats from rural parts of the state. Each of these groups have refused to support the gay marriage bill on religious grounds. These lawmakers represent communities that are deeply involved in Christian churches that have little tolerance for the gay lifestyle or are openly hostile to homosexuals.
Since no open vote was taken, we don't know for sure who the no votes were, but it is safe to assume that Arthur Turner, LaShawn Ford, Luis Arroyo, Cynthia Soto and Monique Davis were among the Democrats from Chicago who refused to support the measure.
Why aren't they being called out as bigots?
When social conservative Bill Brady campaigned for governor in 2010, he was ripped by every liberal organization in the state as being everything short of the anti-Christ. He was called a bigot, intolerant, nut-job, wacko, gay-hater, etc. All that name calling came from liberals who were disgusted that Brady opposed gay marriage because of his Christian religious beliefs.
On this issue, what is the difference between Bill Brady and Monique Davis or LaShawn Ford or Art Turner? Why is one a bigot and the others are ok?
Liberals have gone much further in their national slash and burn campaign against conservatives. They have portrayed the entire Republican Party as bigoted and intolerant, not just individual members. President Obama took every chance he could find to hit Mitt Romney for his Mormon beliefs about the traditional definition of marriage.
So why is it that Republicans are bigots when they support traditional marriage based on their religious views; but, when Democrats do the same thing, liberals give them a free pass and hold their fire?
Illinois is completely dominated by Democrats. Both houses of the General Assembly have Democratic super-majorities, the governor is a liberal Democrat and the mayor of the state's largest city is a lifelong, loyal Democrat. Gay marriage should have been a slam dunk if all Democrats were so wonderful compared to those bigots in the Republican Party, right?
The truth is the Democrats are just as divided on social issues as Republicans. Sure, the social liberals gravitate toward the Democratic Party and their grandiose proclamations on social issues make them seem more numerous than what their numbers suggest. However, the social liberals within the party tend to come from affluent, Caucasian communities with very few social problems. Meanwhile, large segments of the party come from Hispanic, Asian and black communities that are struggling with a myriad of economic and social issues and where the Christian faith plays a central role in everyday life. Other working and middle class Caucasian voters come from conservative Catholic or Lutheran families where issues like same sex marriage are still a taboo.
The Democrats are not united on social issues, particularly in Illinois.
So when are the gay marriage advocates going to turn on their beloved Democratic officials? When will that name calling begin? When will they start organizing to defeat black and Hispanic incumbents? When will we see an end to the hypocrisy?
I believe that strings will get pulled and gay marriage will get passed in Illinois before the end of 2014. However, I hope gay rights advocates learned a lesson from what happened last week: your beloved Democrats are not as tolerant as you thought they were and Republicans are not as bad as you think they are.
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