Tuesday, May 22, 2007

it still walks like a duck

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News from Springfield today that the Illinois civil union bill ( HB 1826) has been purged of references to marriage, apparently in an effort to appease those on the right who won't be voting for the bill anyway. The story, by Erik Potter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reveals that an amendment by the bill's sponsor is calling for the 49 instances of the M-word that appear in the bill to be reduced to 3. The right claims this editing is an attempt to fool legislators into thinking this bill isn't about marriage. That's just silly, of course, as the language of the bill calls for same-sex couples to be given all the rights traditionally afforded to spouses. Specifically, the bill would give same-sex couples rights taken for granted by married couples, such as hospital visitation rights, medical decision-making capabilities, and inheritance, among others. No matter what you call it, it is sure starting to look and sound a lot like marriage.

The bill currently lacks the 60 votes it needs to pass, and the legislature adjourns at the end of the month, so it is unlikely that there'll be many Children of the Corn born to legally wedded same-sex couples in the near future. But still, we can hope.

What does it suggest that it is still so amazing that such a bill is out there, whether it passes or not? Kudos to Greg Harris, the only out gay Illinois legislator, for sponsoring it in the first place. Courage such as his is still rare. He seems to actually think a political career is about representing the interests of the people that elected you (blue Chicagoans) rather than people who can get you things (red downstaters).

Whether you are for marriage or against it for gays, straights, or anybody, you have to admit that there isn't much room for debate concerning the relative merits and detriments of marriage when it isn't even a right everyone can choose or reject in the first place. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and writing to reps, but even if the bill doesn't pass I can't help feeling as if this wave is coming. It may take years, but the conservatives are on the wrong side of this one, as they almost always are when it comes to civil rights issues.

The fact that we are even talking about getting enough votes to pass something like this in the heartland, that we are at that stage of seriousness, is happy news indeed.

Here is the link to the story, since I can't seem to get the link to work otherwise above:

Or you can click on my link and look for "civil unions" by Erik Potter.

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