Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Civil Unions adopted by Illinois as of 6-1-11

Perhaps one of the most controversial and difficult issues today is gay marriage.  The years of debate, countless bills, propositions and court challenges continue in America and have strong and entrenched advocates on both sides.  Many Christians are strongly against gay marriage stating homosexuality is a sin and should not be promoted in any way. However this topic should be much more complex for people, Christian or not. 
Marriage is a Christian institution, the blueprint for marriage has been laid out through scripture.  Dating back to the middle ages, as early as the 1400’s, marriage licenses were sought by many, some wishing to marry quickly, marry away from their home church, or since even then marriage licenses cost money some wanted it as a status symbol showing that they could afford it.  However the most important point regarding this history is the party issuing the licenses was the church leadership.  Bishops, Archbishops, or Archdeacons were responsible for these items; no government was involved in the process.  Those wishing to be married would seek, through the church, an avenue to do so.  This is significant because it shows a direct relationship between marriage and God/religion.   However it has not remained that way, government involvement in issuance of “marriage licenses”which were granted by the state courts started here in colonial America around the turn of the 17th century, with the intent of placing restrictions or requirements on the type of marriages that would be “permitted.”  At the time, multicultural marriages were the target for exclusion by racist and it continued to be practiced that way through the early 20th century in some parts of the United States. To provide a tiny glimpse at the extent to which racism impacted legal marriages at that time I provided below a quote from a trail judge who initially sentenced  two individuals in 1958 for an illegal marriage before it was eventually appealed.  U.S. Supreme Court Case:  Loving v. Virginia (1967).
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
However progress was eventually made and racist views regarding marriage have since been placed in the rear view mirror. Thankfully America has made great strides in overcoming such bigotry and discrimination over the last 50 + year. I provide this history as an example of the continuing struggle for America to reevaluate its law and commitment to equality. 
Now for many religious people and groups marriage will always be a sacred commitment before God acknowledging a union of body and spirit.  However, in more recent history, marriages have been moving away from a biblical blueprint and marriages are becoming increasingly secular.  A lot of Christians would argue that allowing homosexually marriage would erode the “moral fabric” of marriage in our country. I feel that heterosexual marriages are eroding that “moral fabric” all by itself; Marriages for legal status, marriages with prearranged marriage separation settlements, and rising divorce rates, increasing acceptance of infidelity, drunken middle of the night shotgun weddings in Vegas are just a few examples of how God/religion are being slowly removed from the picture in American marriages.  In a country that holds the principle of separation of church and state, if marriage is not going to be by definition a religious institution in America but rather a legal status that provides tax credits, allows property sharing, visitation rights etc, there is no basis for denying marriage rights to homosexual couples who desire those same legal benefits. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate what standards we as Americans not Christians apply to marriage.    Perhaps no “marriage certificates” should be issued by the state, and everyone gay or straight should receive civil union paperwork; however no matter what the resolution, if America is truly going to promote equality it must be equal for all, even those who lifestyles we may not agree with.

UPDATED 5-10-11

"Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Clerk David Orr will be among those in attendance for a historic ceremony next month, in which 30 gay and lesbian couples will be joined in civil unions in Millennium Park."

UPDATED 6-1-11


As of 6-1-11 Civil Unions are being issued to gay couples, civil unions give same sex and opposite sex couples the same rights as married couples when it comes to parenting, hospital rights, inheritances and more. But lawmakers have pointed out that legalizing civil unions does not change the legal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, which currently is spelled out in Illinois state law.