Civil Unions In Illinois
The Southern Illinoisan is reporting that the Illinois Senate approved the civil unions bill Wednesday. The House approved civil unions Tuesday. Governor Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill.
I found links to the roll call votes in the House (pdf) and the Senate (pdf) on the Chicago Public Radio site. Local representatives Mike Bost and John Bradley voted against the bill, as did local Senators David Luechtefeld and Gary Forby. Bost and Luechtefeld represent Carbondale.
The bill will extend most of the rights of marriage to same sex couples who enter into civil unions. Illinois does not have the authority to grant federal rights of marriage like Social Security survivor’s benefits and the ability to file a joint federal tax return.
Opponents of the bill cited potential increases in pension and health care costs for state and municipal workers as well as moral concerns as reasons to oppose the bill. In a lengthy article on the bill, the State Journal-Register quotes Sen. Ricky Hendon responding to these criticisms:
“When I sit here and I hear adulterers and womanizers and folks cheating on their wives and down-low brothers saying they’re going to vote against this bill, it turns my stomach!” Hendon said, referring to colleagues whom he did not name. “We know what you do at night. And you know, too. … Why make it about pensions? … It’s not about pensions. Just say you don’t like certain folk.”
While some legislators opposed the bill, others faced pressure to legalize same sex marriage instead of civil unions. The State Journal-Register article quotes State Rep. Greg Harris:
“It was a close vote in both chambers. I think that was instructive,” Harris said. “To sort of the left side of me, I have people in my community who are very upset. They said, ‘Why didn’t you go for full equality or nothing and hold these people’s feet to the fire and make them all vote for us?’
“We found a center course, a moderate course and a middle course.”
Personally, I agree with the marriage supporters. If civil unions provide the same rights as marriage, just call it marriage. If they don’t provide the same rights, they stop short of equality.
On the other hand, I think Harris is probably correct that marriage wouldn’t have passed. Civil unions are an improvement over the status quo and are an acceptable compromise.
Comments are welcome.