LGBT Americans could be on the verge of another victory in a key state. There appears to be real momentum in Illinois to pass marriage equality in the next week or so. Over 250 religious leaders, a large number of corporate leaders and almost every paper in the state has urged the state legislature to pass it. The vote is expected to be close but the Governor is pushing for it and will sign the legislation if it passes.
Even though it is the holidays, take some time and contact relatives, friends and business associates in Illinois and beg them to weigh in with their representatives to vote for marriage equality. Winning in this heavily populated mid-western state would be a huge victory - especially as the Supreme Court is considering the issue. Take a few minutes and do what you can do. and check out Illinois Unites For Marriage Equality.
Our President issued a strong endorsement of the effort to pass marriage equality in Illinois. He said:
"His personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally."
The Daily Herald, one of Illinois major newspapers wrote:
We've wondered at times about the newspaper editorial board deliberations of old. Did they equivocate in the 1850s on the horror of slavery? Did they anguish a century ago when women demanded the right to vote? Did they falter in the 1960s when the great debate over racial equality took place?
"To sin by silence when they should protest," Abraham Lincoln said, "makes cowards of men."
All of those movements had at their base the cause of human dignity. No one questions any more which side in those debates was right. No one questions that. The side of human dignity was right. The side of full citizenship was right. In every case.
Much like the gay rights debate of today.
Oh, how we have wondered about those deliberations. Particularly as recent lawsuits against gay marriage bans have stoked the issue, how we have wondered. And perhaps, if we are honest with ourselves, how we have equivocated, anguished, faltered, how we have remained silent for too long.
We believe that if a committed gay couple wants to marry, they should be allowed to marry. And that marriage should be recognized by the state.
The treatment of gays, by society and by law, has improved markedly in recent years. There has been much progress. And many, although not all, protections for gay couples have been provided by Illinois' civil union legislation.
But the reality is, civil union status is unequal status. Unless gay couples are allowed to marry, they always will be relegated to second-class citizenship, and that is not right. That is not just.