Illinois gay marriage bill still has a long journey ahead

While people may argue nothing ever happens in government (It’s pointless, etc.) I argue something pretty amazing is happening. Last Thursday the same-sex marriage bill passed in the Illinois Senate. I hate to admit it, but I found out through Facebook when the news broke, after cries of Facebook friends covered my newsfeed with (incorrect) proclamations of “same-sex marriage legal in Illinois!” and “same-sex marriage passed!” Facebook friends, it still has a long way to go.

The vote in the state senate was almost entirely along party lines. Not shockingly, senators such as Bill Brady voted against the bill. My guess is he’s trying to be as strict of a Republican as possible in case he runs for Illinois governor in 2014. But for this state, for a Republican to vote along party lines seems odd to me. Even after Blago was arrested, the state still voted for a Democrat. This has been a Democratic-leaning state for some time now. To get those votes, you have to be willing to work with the other side. But that’s not to say no Republican voted for it. The one and only Republican proponent was Sen. Jason Barickman of Champaign.

In addition to the party-line voting, it’s semi-important to note this vote took place on Valentine’s Day. While I may not be this day’s biggest fan, state Sen. Kyle McCarter seems to appreciate the love aspect of it. Actually, I take back my use of appreciate. He took issue with it being voted on Feb. 14 because it was voted on a holiday dedicated to celebrating love, disguising how the bill’s passage will result in “a devaluing of traditional marriage.”

“Devaluing.”

Mr. McCarter, states allowing same-sex marriages have lower divorce rates than the national average. I will not disagree with him that it would change what is “traditional marriage,” but it is not as if this change is detrimental to society. And it surely does not devalue it any more than those who marry and divorce faster than this year’s short NHL season.

But everything we do is always for the children, right? They are our most precious resource after all. Illinois Republicans seem to fear schools having to accept same-sex marriage into their curriculum.

Oh, no? The pain, the agony. How dare they? What if a student already has two mothers or two fathers? It is not as if a public school is going to refuse to speak to them during parent-teacher conferences.

Last time I checked, schools tend to teach us to love and respect each other. I mean, is that not the point of the golden rule? Do unto others as you would unto you. I’m pretty sure I stared at a sign that said that every year in grade school, and I could not have been the only student to have ever seen it.

I just do not foresee public schools having problems accepting this. Of course, private religious institutions are a different matter, but just because the school is private and religious doesn’t mean it can’t be progressive or understanding.

And it is not as if the bill requires churches to perform same-sex weddings. An amendment was added to the bill stating churches do not have to perform the wedding or the reception and will not be reprimanded for doing so. This distinction was perhaps what caused Barickman to vote for the bill. Because hey, I get it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and some people are morally against same sex marriage.

But that number is quickly dwindling. A Gallup poll shows that 53 percent of the country is now in clear favor of it and 46 percent against. While that may not seem like staggering numbers, it is important to note that in March of 1996, only 27 percent believed same-sex marriage should be valid. And I can only imagine the percent of proponents increasing as more and more of the younger population have no problems with two men or two women marrying.

So if this bill was able to make it so far, maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad. But as of right now, there is no set date to debate the bill in the House as the bill’s sponsors are working on getting enough support.

I leave you with one last question. If the bill is argued in the House during another holiday such as Arbor day, will McCarter or other Republicans try to refute by speaking for the trees, claiming the bill devalues our fight against global warming? He should probably speak to the Lorax before making that claim though.

Joanna is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at rothenb2@dailyillini.com.