Sneaky stuff in Illinois gay civil unions legislation

With dogmatic certainty, activists for gay civil unions assured everyone that it would cause no harm to traditional marriage.

Turns out to be a lot of bunk. What didn’t get much attention leading up to the Illinois Legislature’s passage of civil unions for gays was the fact that the law, if signed as it certainly will be by Gov. Pat Quinn, applies equally to heterosexual couples.

In other words, you don’t have to get married to enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage. In other words, why get married at all?

There are some interesting things in the legislation, some of which have been ignored by much of the traditional media. That it applies equally to heterosexual couples is just one of them. You’ll get the idea by reading the required fiscal and other “notes” required to be attached to new Illinois laws to assess their impact before they are passed.

The fiscal, pension and other notes forecast that the law will cost millions of dollars, in added public pension, administration, judicial and other costs. No one can really say how miuch because no one knows exactly how many civil unions will occur. That would include couples that move here to establish residency to become eligible for civil unions, or the number of gay couples “married” in other states (whose marriage Illinois’ new law recognizes) move here. 


This column first appeared in The Chicago Daily Observer.

When the state is circling the financial drain, this is just what we need–more spending and additional entitlements.


Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune / November 30, 2010 Sate Rep. Greg Harris, the chief sponsor of the civil unions bill in the House, said he felt it would be disciminatory to limit the legislation to same-sex couples.

Undoubtedly, the bill’s supporters consider any costs niggling when weighed against their central argument: “It’s the right thing to do.” And that anyone bringing up costs may well be camouflaging his homophobia.

Have it their way. But their argument that it would not hurt traditional marriage turns out not just to be wrong. One might imagine that it was designed to do just that. By including heterosexuals in the civil union bargain, marriage remains different or special in name only. Ironically, the folks who call marriage an anachronistic practice that we can do without are the same ones that demand that gays have a right to marriage, in name and in substance.
Including heterosexual partnerships in civil unions was a clever maneuver. It wipes out any substantive differences between marriage and civil unions by making the rights, responsibilities and privileges of civil unions identical to those provided under the state’s Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.
Give Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the bill’s chief sponsor credit for the maneuver, whether he was clever enough or not to pull this off by himself. For the record, he explained that he included heterosexual couples in the deal because, “It just seemed wrong to me to write a law that would be discriminatory.” He wanted it to be “inclusive.”

Believe it if you want. But the bill does discriminate, as does the marriage act, against civil unions between certain blood relatives. Why should it? Liberals have long contested the logic that the purpose of marriage was broad, in that it lays out the rules, privileges and rights involved in procreation, in the interests of parents and children, and in the interests of society. Obviously, the purpose of a civil union rarely would be procreation, so why should the state deny the right of partners who are blood relatives from having the same protections and rights as anyone else? Don’t anyone point this out to Harris, or he might want to also include fathers and daughters in civil unions.

Arguments that marriage is an instrument for the orderly and just continuation of society and civilization are lost in these days of radical individualism.

To illustrate the point: The civil union legislation, as does existing marriage law, directly involves the state Public Health Department in the certification and recording keeping process. Why? Because at one time, the marriage application and licensing process provided health protections for individuals and society. The Public Health Department was involved because once upon a time, pre-marital testing for sexually transmitted diseases was required. Disclosure of such diseases to prospective spouses was considered a matter of transparency, justice and preventing the spread of contagious diseases.

No more. For a while, the state required pre-marital testing for the HIV virus, but that collided with politically correct whims that “privacy rights” trumped everyone else’s rights as well as the public’s interests. The Legislature threw out the HIV testing requirement and, to be “consistent,” also killed any testing for any sexually transmitted diseases.

The debate over same-sex marriage and civil unions has taken a lot of twists and turns, but Illinois has added still more zigs and zags by including heterosexual unions. Few people would deny people the right to visit loved ones in the hospital, to share life-long responsibilities and other things sought by the gay community. There are ways to tweak the law to get it done legally, but why bring down marriage to do it?


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  • Poor old Dennis, while claiming to reveal all, doesn't know what he's talking about. Like the business about cost. If partners in gay relationships get pension and other benefits, they have paid for it and are entitled to it. Pensions and health plans are forms of insurance, paid for by the employee and, in some cases by the employer usually in lieu of some other employment benefit, such as higher wages. There is no discount for being gay, or being in gay relationship. We are forced to pay as much for this stuff in the workplace as heterosexuals but, unlike them, have not gotten the full payout. I for one am tired of subsidising heterosexuals. But, in fact, and in every jurisdiction that has legalised gay relationships, the government saves money, usually tens of millions, because the two partners in a same-sex marriage or civil union have their income counted together for means-tested benefits.
    That is, lots of individuals no longer get these benefits, or get less, because now their partner's income is counted in, too. As for included heterosexuals, there are already lots of them living together for decades--is this news, Dennis?--who will now have the benefits (and the costs) of reasonably fair treatment for themselves and their children. I, for one, am proud of having played a role in this. I never said marriage was anachronistic practice, nor have I ever heard any same-sex marriage advocate say that. I guess this, like his assertion that civil unions would "rarely" involve procreation, is another of Dennis' little fabrications. In the old days, we called this lying. The assertion that "few people would deny people the right to visit loved ones in hospital (etc)" is also nonsense. In fact, hospitals and other public institutions, and people like Dennis who want to keep homosexuals as second-class citizens (or worse) do this all the time. I guess Dennis doesn't read the newspaper. In fact, there are hundreds of statutes that privilege marriage in every jurisdiction, affecting every aspect of life, which can only be equalised by legsliation like this, or better, extending marriage equality. Every time any form of equality, however small, is proposed, they heatedly oppose it (on the grounds that it is a small step towards marriage). As for not testing for sexually transmitted disease (used to be syphilis here), doing or not has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, but tacking this issue onto this topic is typical.

  • Dennis makes a good case that civil unions could harm marriage (although he could do so better with more examples and less bluster). There is "marriage-lite" partnerships in France that have overtaken marriage because it is easier to get into and out of. This "marriage-lite" arrangement was established to prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting married.

  • You didn't take much time to research this bill before writing this post, did you?

    ==In other words, you don't have to get married to enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage. In other words, why get married at all?==

    This simply isn't true. Civil unions still fall far short of equal legal benefits. Civil unions come with no federal recognition. Why get married at all? If you want your spouse to get your social security benefits after you die, you want your relationship status to be recognized by other states, or you don't want your spouse to have to pay inheritance taxes on your joint belongings when you die -- that's why. Unless you're gay of course, in which case you're discriminated against and can't have those same benefits. You would also get married before your church and God if you believe in marriage as a holy sacrament. Of course, you aren't distinguishing between the church and the state when it comes to marriage.

    The fiscal argument is also ridiculous. For one, the state will also save money on social services by recognizing joint incomes. Gay couples can easily milk the system now since one partner can support the other, who can also collect state money -- and they should do so within the law, as long as the state chooses to use the law to discriminate against them. Secondly, if it's really that important to save money on these benefits and you really don't care about discriminating with special taxes levied against minority portions of the population, then maybe we should instead take away state benefits for Christian conservatives. Obviously and thankfully, that would be ridiculous and unconstitutional. Just a shame you're blind to the similarity.

  • To those of you using the Bible as a weapon against homosexuality, you are wrong. Homosexuality is not a sin. The Bible is constantly being taken out of context to support anti-gay views. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, Greek temple sex worship, prostitution, pederasty with teen boys, and rape, not homosexuality or two loving consenting adults.

  • Homosexuality is not a choice. Just like you don't choose the color of your skin, you cannot choose whom you are sexually attracted to. If you can, sorry, but you are not heterosexual, you are bi-sexual. Virtually all major psychological and medical experts agree that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. Most gay people will tell you its not a choice. Common sense will tell you its not a choice. While science is relatively new to studying homosexuality, studies tend to indicate that its biological.

    (Change *** to www)
    Gay, Straight Men's Brain Responses Differ

    There is overwhelming scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice. Sexual orientation is generally a biological trait that is determined pre-natally, although there is no one certain thing that explains all of the cases. "Nurture" may have some effect, but for the most part it is biological.

    And it should also be noted that:
    "It is worth noting that many medical and scientific organizations do believe it is impossible to change a person's sexual orientation and this is displayed in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association."

  • Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

    (Change *** to www)

  • The National Library of Medicine pubs confirm that sexual orientation is natural, biologically induced in the first trimester of pregnancy, morally neutral, immutable, neither contagious nor learned, bearing no relation to an individuals ability to form deep and lasting relationships, to parent children, to work or to contribute to society.

    From the American Psychological Association: homosexuality is normal; homosexual relationships are normal.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Asociation and American Psychiatric Asociation have endorsed civil marriage for same-sex couples because marriage strengthens mental and physical health and longevity of couples, and provides greater legal and financial security for children, parents and seniors.

    America's premier child/mental health associations endorse marriage equality.

  • This was taken from another poster that shows why we need to legalize gay marriage. If you don't feel for this person after reading it, you simply aren't human.

    "I am not sure what our President thinks of this dicission but coming from a poor family and knowing what discrimination is all about I would assume he would not care if "Gays" have equal rights. The whole reason why they are asking for rights to be considered married is from the same reason why I would be for it. My own life partner commited suicide in our home with a gun to his heart. After a 28 year union I was deprived to even go his funeral. We had two plots next to each other. But because we did not have a marriage cirtificate "(Legal Document)" of our union his mother had him cremated and his ashes taken back to Missouri where we came from. That is only one example how painful it is. His suicide tramatized me so much and her disregard for my feelings only added to my heartach. That happened on March 21 of 2007 and I still cannot type this without crying for the trauma I have to endure each day. Oh did I mention I am in an electric wheelchair for life? Yes I am and it is very diffacult to find another mate when you are 58 and in a wheelchair. "

  • Dear Rip Van Winkle, much has happened in the last 20 years. I don't know exactly where you have been, but civil unions, in any recent form in which it has been proposed in any state in the United States (that's the country you live in), has allowed for any two people, heterosexual or homosexual, to enter.

    I could almost read your argument as a proposition for gay marriage, as opening up that institution would simply do away with the bureaucratic clutter of another title, which I, and many others, would support. What clearly seems to be missing here is your knowledge altogether of what constitutes a civil union in the debate that has been raging now for years. It is as if you just woke up one day, read some report on the concept of the civil union, and not having developed any knowledge of this new form through its inception and introduction throughout the country, formed this now nearly incomprehensible, and rather outdated, rant.

    Incidentally, I am one who believes that any two individuals should be able to enter into whatever civil contract they wish, negating the need for civil marriage. I also believe, however, that if marriage is to stand, as it certainly will with widespread support, it should be open to all who seek to enter into it, as a purely civil institution without regard for the gender of the entrants.

  • Ignore this article. Ridiculous. Instead, do what you can to support and encourage the people you love.

  • In reply to tmtech83:

    Just because Dennis Byrne says something is true, this doesn't necessarily mean it isn't. But he has never written a sentence worth repeating.

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