Archive for May, 2010

Governor Again States Support for Civil Unions

May 31, 2010

Gov. Pat Quinn

The governor has stated his support for civil unions for same-sex couples (and his opposition to same-sex marriage) before and he has said it again. The Chicago Tribune recently asked him about the question, along with questions about other social issues. The contrast between him and his Republican opponent, Bill Brady, is clear, so we need to pass this bill before Brady even has the chance to come into office.

His consistent message shows that we have a real possibility of legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples this year. He will sign the bill into law if we can get it passed by the legislature. You can read the full text of the bill introduced by Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, here. The bill currently has thirteen co-sponsors.  

I remember how amazed I was when a few states first began to legalize civil unions more than ten years ago. Things have changed a lot since then. Now, five states Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont – plus the District of Columbia have full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Another three states – New York, Rhode Island and Maryland – do not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but honor the marriages of same-sex couples performed in others states. And nine states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships. As a result of these changes, civil unions – once quite controversial – now represents a moderate position. It was the position supported by most of the Democratic candidates for president in 2008, including Barack Obama. While full marriage equality is our ultimate goal, a civil unions law is achievable in Illinois this year.

If you support the passage of this bill, please sign on to the petition for clergy, religious leaders, and members of religious congregations. Your voice can make a difference!  

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Poll: Most Deem Homosexuality Acceptable

May 25, 2010

For a second day in a row, Gallup polls reveal changing attitudes toward homosexuality in the United States. Today’s poll results show that, for the first time ever, more than half of Americans now say that homosexuality is morally acceptable. The trend toward greater acceptance is consistent across all religious categories, with a remarkable 16 percent increase in acceptance among Roman Catholics between 2006 and 2010.

Poll: Americans Grow More Open to Equality

May 24, 2010

A Gallup poll released today shows that Americans are growing more open to marriage equality for same-sex couples. Fifty-three percent of respondents said that they opposed recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples, down from 57 percent last year. (Recent research has shown that the majority of Americans support civil unions, a question not addressed in today’s poll. See Wikipedia for an overview.)

Two areas of special interest in today’s poll results:

Religion – Americans who say that religion is “very important” in their lives oppose same sex marriage by a much wider margin than those who say that religion is “fairly important” or “not important” to them. While this is disheartening, I think this underscores the importance of outreach to communities of faith.

Region – Of the four national regions considered by the poll, two have a majority in favor of marriage equality: East and West. The poll shows that the Midwest has 40 percent support for the freedom to marry, but it is hard to say what that means for Illinois since the Midwest is a large region and there is no state-by-state breakdown.

We’re Tweeting Now!

May 23, 2010

The Illinois Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry is now on Twitter. Follow us at IlFreetoMarry.

Help Us Strategize for Civil Unions

May 21, 2010

Leaders of the Illinois Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry will be meeting with allies at the next strategy session of the Illinois Interfaith Committee for Civil Unions at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, at the offices of Equality Illinois, 3318 N. Halsted St. Please drop me a line at ircftm@yahoo.com if you plan to join us!

Illinois Couples Are Going to Iowa to Marry

May 20, 2010
 

Image from Iowa Independent

According to a report from the Des Moines Register, at least 2,020 same-sex couples married in Iowa between April 27, 2009, when legalization went into effect, through March 31 of this year. Of those, more than 1,200 came from other states, including 199 from Illinois. Congratulations to all of those couples! If you have gotten married to your partner, please share your photo and tell your story here on this blog. We’d love to hear from you!

The news for Iowans is good. The move to repeal same-sex marriage in The Hawkeye State appears to have stalled, according to one recent report.

But the news for Illinois couples is not so good. Illinois doesn’t recognize those Iowa marriage certificates at all. So getting married in Iowa doesn’t provide any of the rights and responsibilities of marriage for Illinois couples. So while I celebrate for the progress in our neighbor state, it is no substitute for achieving equal marriage rights here at home in Illinois… and everywhere.  

UCC Pastor Shares Personal Reflections

May 20, 2010

Rev. Rex Piercy, pastor of Congregational Church of Arlington Heights

Rev. Rex Piercy, pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ of Arlington Heights, a member congregation of the United Church of Christ, is proud that his home state of Iowa was one of the first states in the nation to legalize same-sex marraige. As a man in a long-term same-sex relationship, he is hoping that the state where he lives now will follow suit. He shared the following comments with the Illinois Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry:

When the church gathers to worship on July 4, 2010 it will have been five years to the day since the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed its resolution called “Equal Marriage Rights for All.” Significant things have happened since that vote. One very positive thing was that my home state of Iowa (Iowa you say!) became the Midwest leader in equal marriage rights for all. Not Illinois, not Wisconsin, not Minnesota…Iowa! It made me so proud. It makes me so sad that my new adopted state of Illinois cannot even find its way to support civil unions, let alone full marriage equality. My experience as a gay man in a long-term committed relationship and as the pastor of an “open and affirming” congregation in the United Church of Christ suggests to me that the civil and religious leaders of this state must hold serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenant relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender as a basic right. 

If you are a clergy person or a member of a religious congregation in Illinois and share Rev. Piercy’s call for justice for same-sex couples, please sign the petition at this link to proclaim your support for a state law allowing for civil unions.

Congressman Promotes Immigration Equality

May 19, 2010

Rep. Luis Gutierrez

The inability to marry has particularly devastating consequences for binational same-sex couples. When a person from another country falls in love with a U.S. citizen of the same sex, marriage does not allow a path to permanent residents or citizenship as it does for opposite-sex couples. As a result, the couple can be forced to separate if one is deported. Fortunately, some of our leaders in Washington are working to do something about it. Bernard Cherkasov, the CEO of Equality Illinois, sent an e-mail today announcing a press conference next week with U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago:

Dear friends:
 
U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez will hold a press conference on Monday, May 24, at 12:00 p.m. at the Hoover-Leppen Theatre in the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted Street, Chicago.  He will be joined by other members of Congress, including Rep. Polis of Colorado, and by leaders from numerous civil rights organizations representing the LGBT and immigrant communities, including Equality Illinois. 
 
The Congressman plans to address the immigrant and LGBT communities and announce his support for truly comprehensive immigration reform that includes equal rights for same-sex binational couples.
 
I encourage all of you, our friends in the communities of faith, to come show your support for truly comprehensive immigration reform. 
 
I look forward to seeing you on Monday.
 
Bernard

Bernard Cherkasov, Esq.
Chief Executive Officer
EQUALITY ILLINOIS

Sign On for Justice for Same-Sex Couples!

May 18, 2010

Allied for Equality – an Illinois partnership between lgbt and straight equality advocates – has just made it easier than ever to add your voice to the petition expressing support for the civil unions bill. Just follow this link to speak out. A list of signatories will be published soon.

After you have signed the petition, please distribute the link widely. All members of religious congregations – whether clergy or lay people – are encouraged to sign the peition. (If you do not have a designated leadership role in your congregation, you can simply write “member” where the petition asks for your title).

So clergy, ask your congregations to sign!

Congregation members, ask your clergy to sign!

Note: A paper version of this petition circulated last year. If you can’t remember for sure whether you signed it before, go ahead and do it again, especially if any of your information changed over the past year.

Dean at Methodist Seminary Endorses Bill

May 18, 2010

Rev. Pamela Lightsey

Rev. Pamela Lightsey, Ph.D., the dean of students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a United Methodist school in Evanston, is supporting the civil unions bill that has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature. She writes the following:

As an African American religious scholar and higher education administrator, I believe in the sacred worth of all persons. Our current laws regarding marriage rights deny fair and just public policy standards for LGBTQ citizens while at the same time requiring their allegiance to the very same system that oppresses them. This must end.

If you share Dr. Lightsey’s support for the civil unions bill, please call or write your state legislators today to let them know. Just type in your 9-digit ZIP code at this link to find out the names and contact information of your state senator and representative.