Chicago mayor calls the freedom to marry in Illinois a priority
November 14, 2012
Yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said that he would be pushing hard for a bill in the Illinois legislature that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Illinois.
He published a letter in The Chicago Sun-Times, explaining that "the time is right" for a legislative push for marriage in Illinois, citing the huge momentum from last week's four historic marriage wins as evidence of a new, amenable climate for the freedom to marry in his state.
In the letter, Emanuel wrote, "Today, we must take the next step on [America's great journey of expanding opportunity and equality] by affording the opportunity to marry to all Americans - and we can continue that march by quickly enacting marriage equality here in Illinois."
"Gays and lesbians are our teachers, our doctors, our police officers, family members, friends and neighbors," he continued, making good on his commitment to our Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition, which now includes over 280 mayors committed to fairness for all families. He said, "Honoring their contributions as full members of our society means providing members of the GLBT community with the same rights and freedoms as every other citizen. ... Chicago is a city of different neighborhoods and nationalities, or different religions, races and sexual orientations. ... We are strongest when we are one people, united under the same set of laws, with the same freedoms and responsibilities."
Currently, same-sex couples in Illinois are permitted to join together in civil unions, and in the past year, 5,000 couples have seen their relationships recognized by the state in this capacity. Civil unions offer some - but not all - of the protections that marriage affords, and this year, even couples with civil unions have seen their relationships misunderstood, disrespected, and treated as something significantly less than marriage. Despite the legal and economic benefits that civil unions afford, only the freedom to marry can truly protect all same-sex couples and their families.
In September, a poll demonstrated that nearly 44 percent of respondents in Illinois said they support marriage for same-sex couples, while only 20 percent of people said they believe same-sex couples should not have any access to any form of family status. That marks a significnat jump from 2010, when the same polling organization found only 33 percent of Illinois residents supporting marriage for same-sex couples.