Why Freedom to Marry?

If a civil union law allows for the same rights as marriage, then isn’t it just as good? No. The ultimate goal fo the Illinois Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry is full marriage equality, as is now available in five U.S. states plus the District of Columbia.

I have seen the argument well made in a couple of places lately. The national organization, Freedom to Marry, recently published a report entitled “Moving Marriage Forward: Building Majority Support for Marriage.” The report argues that the best way to sway public opinion is for those of us who support the freedom to marry to have heartfelt personal conversations with those around us about the issue. The report also argues the following:  

 Marriage is more than a collection of legal rights; it tells the community that two people are committed to each other and are a family.

Because everyone understands this, being married is something important, something that we aspire to, and something that protects us.  This is something that gay and lesbian couples need as much as opposite-sex couples do. Marriage is uniqe and special. It says, “we’re family” in a way that no other word can. It’s the ultimate expression of love, commitment and responsibility for taking care of each other.

Columnist Frank Rich also wrote eloquently on the question in the New York Times yesterday:

…as long as gay Americans are denied the same right to marry as everyone else, they are branded as sub-citizens, less equal and less deserving than everyone else. That government-sanctioned stigma inevitably leaves them vulnerable to other slights and discrimination, both subtle and explicit. The damage is particularly acute for children, who must not only wonder why their parents are regarded as defective by the law but must also bear this scarlet letter of inferiority when among their peers.

At the same time, we are still actively campaigning to get a civil unions law passed this year, as we believe it is the only realistic hope at progress this year in our state. Any progress is good, even though marriage remains the ultimate goal. Remember that same-sex couples currently have NO protections in the state of Illinois. Civil unions, while an unfortunately compromise, nonetheless, represent a step forward.

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