By Nick Chiakulas
On February 15, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would press legislation in Springfield that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Emanuel stated in an interview, “I’ll push for it because it is consistent with the values base, and the practical values base, that I think is right as a city, as a state and as a country.”
This is a major breakthrough for the advancement of same-sex marriage, as there are only seven states in the U.S. that allow marriage between people of the same gender.
Emanuel has been a long standing supporter of same-sex rights, as one of his top aides is in a civil union.
“If you have two loving adults, that should actually be held up as a positive, whether it’s male or female, but in this case female-female, male-male,” said Mayor Emanuel. I think that’s proper and we as a state shouldn’t discriminate.”
The legislation, named the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” was announced on February 8. This act will specifically give marital rights to same-sex couples as have been previously offered to heterosexual couples exclusively. It does however; give religious groups the choice on what marriages they wish to perform, allowing churches, synagogues and mosques to deny marriage rituals to same-sex couples.
The CEO of Equality Illinois, Bernard Cherkasov stated that when civil unions were legalized it was a “step forward, but remains a poor substitute for same-sex marriage.” He added the statement “Separate is not equal.”
A date for voting on the bill remains inconclusive, but officials anticipate calling a vote on this issue sometime in 2012 or 2013.