On December 1, 2010, the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB 1716, the so-called Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act even though all of the "protections" granted to civil unions were already legally available to those who sought them; all that was needed to obtain them was a little simple paperwork.
The next day the Illinois Senate approved the same legislation, which Governor Quinn signed into law on January 31, 2011.
When the law passed we were told it would not impact religious organizations, yet it was the same legislation that forced Catholic Charities our of their work with foster care and adoptions.
If you recall, the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act - which has not actually granted any religious freedom but took it away - was passed in a "lame duck" session, with at least once Senator (Deanna Demuzio) changing her mind the morning of the vote, from against the bill to support of it; she had already lost her bid for re-election and so had nothing to lose (this was the only way the bill would pass).
Now, rather quietly and quickly (just as before) the Illinois House of Representatives is preparing to vote on HR 5170 - sponsored by two democrats from Chicago - which aims to legalize same-sex "marriage". The vote is likely to take place in another lame duck session, January 2-8, 2013.
If the sponsors and supporters of this legislation are so convinced of the moral rightness - as they no doubt claim - why do they not propose the legislation when their re-election is at stake?
HR 5170 is called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. As before, if you think the legislation will actually grant any freedom of religion, you are foolish and blind to the lessons of the past.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois has created a web site to help people of good will oppose the proposed legislation and to defend the reality of marriage.
What must be remembered is that marriage existed before the Catholic Church and before any State. Therefore the State has no right or authority to change or alter the definition of marriage. It really is that simple.
Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran a story noting that more than 250 clergy - mostly from Chicago - support the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The article quotes a statement from these clergy that reads, in part, "We believe all Illinois couples should have the same civil protections and urge our public officials to support measures to achieve equality." This statement alone shows the ignorance of these clergy when it comes to the law. The Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act has already granted the same civil protections now demanded.
What the article does not say is how many clergy oppose the legislation.
Please, contact your Illinois Representative and Senator and ask them to oppose the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, or any similar legislation.