January 9, 2013
By Jacob Combs
Supporters of equal marriage rights in the Illinois legislature will file marriage equality bills in both the Senate and House today during the new legislature’s first day of business, Illinois United for Marriage announced last night. Senator Heather Steans and Representative Greg Harris, the chief sponsors of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, plan to push for passage of the bill in the session’s early weeks.
“We are one step closer to equality in the Land of Lincoln,” Representative Harris said, according to an Illinois United press release. “The bills we filed today will treat all couples equally under the law. We are going full steam ahead on this.” For her part, Senator Steans said that she is “confident legislators will grant all Illinois couples the freedom to marry this year.”
Steans, Harris and other equal marriage advocates in Illinois had hoped to pass a marriage equality bill during the lame-duck session that ended yesterday, but were thwarted by the absence of several Democratic senators due to family emergencies and vacation. The bill did pass out of the Senate Executive Committee by an 8-5 vote, but was not considered by the full chamber.
In somewhat related news, Washington National Cathedral has announced that it will begin hosting weddings for same-sex couples, a move that is not completely surprising due to the Episcopal Church’s support for marriage equality but nevertheless carries important symbolic significance. The church’s dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, said the following in an interview with the AP:
“[P]erforming same-sex marriages is an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community ‘that reflects the diversity of God’s world.
‘I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do. And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it’s being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be.
‘As a kind of tall-steeple, public church in the nation’s capital, by saying we’re going to bless same-sex marriages, conduct same-sex marriages, we are really trying to take the next step for marriage equality in the nation and in the culture.
‘For us to be able to say we embrace same-sex marriage as a tool for faithful people to live their lives as Christian people, for us to be able to say that at a moment when so many other barriers toward full equality and full inclusion for gay and lesbian people are falling, I think it is an important symbolic moment.’”