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Gay marriage activists were upset to hear about the outcome of the Illinois General Assembly’s lame duck session this week. Despite having President Obama re-elected by a strong margin in Illinois, and a Democrat majority in both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate, it appears their gay marriage bill “stalled” and they couldn’t even get a majority of Democrats to support the bill after President’s Obama’s endorsement. Vowing that gay marriage is “inevitable”, they are promising to bring back the bill in the spring 2013 session.
So why didn’t the bill pass during their 11th hour lame duck session, before the outgoing General Assembly recessed? It’s a very interesting story, actually. One problem was the Democratic caucus wasn’t unified – some Catholic legislators and downstate Democrats refused to support a gay marriage bill, saying it went against their values.
Another thing gay marriage backers seem to forget is that despite how many times they claim gay marriage opponents are dying out and that only “old white males” oppose this type of “progress”, a diverse coalition of people spoke against the bill. One such example is a coalition of African-American ministers from Chicago. The ministers, mainly from the west side of the city, urged law makers to reject the bill, and additionally noted that they would oppose the re-election of any politician who votes to approve same-sex marriage in Illinois. Gay marriage proponents have likened gay marriage to a “civil rights” issue, a position that the ministers – many veterans of the civil rights era of the 1960s where blacks struggled for equality – soundly rejected. Rev. Joseph Kyles, pastor of The Promise Church of Chicago, said the idea of gay marriage is a moral issue, not a civil rights issue. “There is no way you can tell me that people in Mississippi who were chased down by dogs, who were sprayed with fire hoses, who were hung from trees, have the same passion for two men to be married, or two women. You cannot tell me that,” he said. Rev. Kenneth Giles, pastor of 2nd Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, agreed that gay marriage is not a civil rights issue, and in fact, promoting gay marriage is anti-civil rights because it goes against the natural order of mankind: “The civil rights movement taught us that, although man makes a law, if it is against God’s law, we have to stand for what God says,” he said, adding: “And we learned that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. So we’re standing on this, regardless of what they do.” Rev. Leon Miller said he loves gays as people but believes the gay lifestyle is sinful, and noted that calling a homosexual relationship a “marriage” is an “abomination before God… God is going to get sick of this.” These black churches and ministerial coalitions represent a significant bloc of voters in Chicago which normally reliably votes Democrat. Chicago politicians were perhaps a bit concerned about what would happen if they instructed their flock to boycott the 2014 midterm elections or campaign against any pro-gay marriage incumbent.
Likewise, despite gay marriage proponents always painting their opposition as “Christian fundamentalists” whose only argument against gay marriage is “Bible thumping”, quite a few of the most outspoken opponents were not Bible fundamentalists, and many weren’t even Christians. Leading the fight was Illinois’ Roman Catholic bishops, Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Belleville; Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon the Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet; Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. the Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria; Most Reverend David J. Malloy the Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford; Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki the Bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, and his Eminence Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., the Archbishop of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. While Catholics are most certainly Christian, the Catholic Church rejects Biblical literalism and “sola scriptura” beliefs, so the Cardinal and the Bishops used arguments about natural law, instead of quoting scripture. Bishop Paprocki testified in Springfield, and stated “Neither two men, nor two women, can possibly form a marriage. Our law would be wrong if it said that they could.” He cited three harmful ideas that would be enshrined in state law if such a bill were to pass: “One: What essentially makes a marriage is romantic, emotional union. Two: Children do not need both a mother and a father. Three: The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions unrelated to the procreation of children.” Cardinal George also wrote a very eloquent argument in a Jan. 6th column, saying the concept of marriage in society predated modern organized religion:
“[T]he nature of marriage is not a religious question…“Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no State of Illinois and no United States of America.” The Cardinal added that since homosexuals are biologically unable to consummate a marriage, “gay marriage” is therefore by definition impossible. He noted that the state “has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible,” and that the concept is “an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.”
Overall, more than 70 other parishes and clergy added their names to a joint letter to the legislature opposing gay marriage, including those from Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, non-denominational, and other Christian churches in Illinois. Two prominent non-Christian faith communities also joined the letter to voice their opposition to gay marriage. Elder Jack Ward signed on behalf of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) in Illinois, and The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, represented by Chairman Dr. Zaher Sahloul, signed on behalf of Muslims in Illinois. Their letter did not cite any bible verses, but instead made statements such as “Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of society because a stable, loving marriage is the ideal environment for raising children. … As such, marriage in its true definition has long been respected and publicly supported in our society.” They concluded: “if marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations. Compulsion of this nature is a violation of personal conscience and of religious liberty.”
Of course, the vote to legalize so-called “gay marriage” was close, and there were certainly plenty of surprises when it came to people lobbying in favor of the bill as well. One person who shocked observers was Patrick Brady, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. Not only did both the state and national Republican Party adapt resolutions and platforms against gay marriage that Pat Brady signed unto (thereby violating his own party’s platform by now endorsing gay marriage in 2013), but Pat Brady also actively went against his own faith when he “came out” in favor of gay marriage, since Pat Brady professes to be a practicing Catholic. Illinois Family Action questioned Brady’s actions, noting he that claimed to only be “personally” in favor of gay marriage and that he was “not speaking as a political official”, but his actions showed otherwise: “Brady has said that his efforts to pursue “equality” have nothing to do with his role as IL GOP leader. Rather, Brady claims (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) that he is merely expressing his personal views. Riiight. Brady spends the first working day of the New Year and the first working day of the lame duck session expressing his “personal views” about same-sex marriage to lawmakers outside of his personal legislative district.” Brady also attempted to justify his beliefs by claiming that support for gay marriage is the ’true conservative position”. Apparently he must think Barney Frank’s views on social issues are “truly conservative”, too.
Some of the advocates who testified in favor of gay marriage in Springfield also claimed to be good Catholics. Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe, a lesbian couple from the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, claimed: “We’re both Catholic. We raise our children Catholic. And our parents are here, who are Catholic. But we’re not asking the church to decide this. It’s a civil right.” They went on to tell the legislators that they want to raise their children with “positive values” in their local Catholic parish. Unfortunately, the ladies testimony is only accurate on one of those three points. It’s true that their parents had them baptized Catholic. However, by being in a lesbian relationship and defying the church to pursue a gay “marriage”, they cannot claim to be practicing Catholics or that they are raising their children as faithful Catholics, even if they go to church every Sunday. This is because Catholicism states that gay marriage is “intrinsically evil” and that it is a non-negotiable, fundamental teaching of the church. It would be similar to someone who eats a hamburger for lunch every day try to claim they are a good Hindu and that they are raising their children as good Hindus. The Hindu faith teaches that all cows are sacred and eating cow meat is never allowed under any circumstances. To do so is considered an abomination by Hinduism. Anyone who eats hamburger is therefore NOT a faithful Hindu, no matter if they visit Hindu temples each week and pray to Hindu deities like Vishnu every day.
So the big surprise this January is that the Democrat majority in Springfield couldn’t muster together enough votes to legalize gay marriage, even with the wind at their back and every political factor in the region seemingly in their favor. They came up short by about 2 votes in the State Senate; and with three legislators absent, opted to withdraw the bill for now. Even attempting to sneak the bill thru by adding it as an amendment to another unrelated piece of legislation was not successful.
Of course, the fight is far from over. This latest exercise just goes to show you that civil union “compromises” that will seemingly placate both sides by granting gay couples the government benefits of marriage without calling it a marriage doesn’t work. After all, state lawmakers approved civil unions for same sex couples in 2011 but a scarce two years later they are demanded everyone else in Illinois call it a “marriage”. They continue the fight for “full marriage equally” for “consenting adults” – which in Chicago Democrat speak translates to special rights for gay couples, since they vehemently deny that legalizing gay marriage will lead to similar “marriage equality” for adult couples engaged in polygamy or incest.
The lamest performance from our state’s lame duck session does show you one thing. Politicians shouldn’t count their chickens before they are hatched.