Illinois Senate could consider same-sex marriage next week
SPRINGFIELD -- A same-sex marriage bill could be considered by the Illinois Senate as soon as Valentine’s Day next week.
The Senate Executive committee approved the bill 9-5 along party lines Tuesday.
The measure is a revised version of a measure the same panel approved during the lame-duck session in January. The new bill further clarifies that places of worship would not be forced to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, said Rep. Heather Steans, one of the bill’s chief sponsors.
But opponents such as Joe LaRue, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, and Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, the committee’s ranking Republican, argued the bill does not go far enough to protect religious freedom.
“We’re going to end up in a situation here where, on a case-by-case basis, churches are going to have to be dragged to court to highlight … where their First Amendment right begins and ends,” Murphy said.
Steans said laws already in place, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Human Rights Act, do enough to protect religious freedom.
Steans said momentum remains on the side of allowing same-sex marriage.
“Every time you poll (the issue), (support) just goes up,” she said.
Danielle Cook of Bloomington-Normal testified in support of the bill Tuesday. Cook has been in a same-sex relationship with her partner, Suzie Hutton, since 2002 and joined in a civil union in 2011. Cook said they want the same level of respect that’s given to any devoted, married couple.
“People offer, or intentionally offer, less respect and dignity to our relationship because marriage is the standard in our society,” Cook said. “I want to be married to Suzie. I want our relationship to begin with the same respect that marriage provides.”
Following the Senate panel’s vote, Gov. Pat Quinn called the issue a “matter of fairness” in a news release.
“I thank the members of the Senate Executive Committee for advancing this measure today, and look forward to working to pass this bill through both houses in the days to come,” he said in the release.
Lauren Leone-Cross can be reached at (217) 782-6292.