The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Peoria Journal-Star, State-Journal Register and Chicago Tribune have all editorialized in favor of same-sex marriage.
The debate over marriage equality long has been dominated by religious, moral and legal implications. Increasingly, the discussion has turned to the legal and business impact of broadening marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships to same-sex couples.
Gary Gates, a senior research fellow with UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy and author of “The Gay and Lesbian Atlas,” says there are about 9 million people in the United States who identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Mr. Gates says there are 780,000 same-sex couples in the country and that a quarter of them are parents to about 380,000 children.
Mr. Gates and his colleagues have found that given a choice, same-sex couples prefer marriage over a civil union or domestic partnership. In states that offer marriage equality, a third of same-sex couples got married the first year they could.
Business leaders have found that tolerance helps them attract better, talented and more creative employees. Extending domestic benefits to same-sex partners also is a draw.
Marriage confers significant benefits on couples, and America has a history of ending discrimination when possible. For lesbians, gays and bisexuals, it’s possible now, and now is the time.
First, the Bible is a useful guide for many in the way they conduct their personal lives, and will continue to be no matter what happens here. But this is public policy, and the Bible is not the nation’s or the state’s governing document. The Constitution is. While the latter was informed by biblical principles it is not strictly defined by them, and the federal Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for all, quite specifically under the 14th Amendment. On that basis alone it will be increasingly difficult for governments to continue to deny equal protection to same-sex couples where civil marriage is concerned.
As much as some may not like it, marriage and family already have evolved much over the last few hundred years. The families of women to be married no longer have to pay a dowry to the family of her future husband. Women aren’t expected to follow their husband’s every command. In some two-parent families, there are two fathers or two mothers.
Moreover, the marriages of heterosexual people without children, who either can’t procreate or choose not to, are not any less valid under the law.
It’s time for the Legislature to authorize same-sex marriage as a matter of policy that would advance social goals valuable not only to gays and lesbians but to everyone in the state.
The most crucial gain is to afford protections to the young. Many gay couples have biological children by one partner or the other, and many others are adoptive parents. With gays as well as straights, marriage serves to promote commitment, stability and financial solvency. If same-sex couples can make the legal commitment and choose to assume all the obligations that come with matrimony, they will be more likely to stay together.
That's good for kids. It’s also good for communities, since it minimizes the unwanted side effects of broken homes.
Authorizing same-sex marriage also works to break down age-old prejudice, discrimination and even violence against gays. Their growing acceptance as full members of society has been one of the most dramatic civil rights stories of our time — but it still has some distance to go.
Much of the opposition stems from religious concerns, such as those cited by Cardinal Francis George, who has urged a “no” vote. We fully understand and respect the cardinal's view that same-sex marriage violates natural law. But nothing in this bill affects the church's authority to define what is right for Catholics. It recognizes the difference between religious rites and civil institutions.
The Catholic church, after all, bars remarriage by divorcees, but Illinois grants marriage licenses to them. Allowing same-sex marriage does not limit the freedom of religious believers to reject it; it merely allows those who differ to practice what they believe.