The Illinois General Assembly is expected to vote today on same-sex civil unions legislation in what gay rights advocates expect to be a very close vote. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has said he expects state lawmakers to approve the bill and the governor has voiced his support.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716), which is co-sponsored by openly gay Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), has come under fire from conservative groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Washington D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which have lobbied hard against the bill.
Meanwhile, in the 16th:
Cardinal Francis George, the head of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said, “The enactment of marriage-like benefits in civil union legislation will intensify the legal attack on marriage.”
The crucial piece of legislation does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance. The bill would not force religious denominations to recognize or sanctify relationships they oppose.
This is a longtime kink of the Catholic Conference, that at some point they’ll have to choose between going to jail for violating anti-discrimination laws, or marrying gay people. It’s the vision they use to frighten their flocks and spur donations to their causes, and it’s never going to happen, like most ultraconservative nightmare scenarios.