By Fran Eaton -
Thousands stood in the sub-freezing cold outside the Capitol on Wednesday to voice their opposition to changing the legal definition of marriage in the State of Illinois. Under the Dome and away from the elements Illinois politicians moved forward to do just that. Insulated from the protest, the lawmakers are now just two votes away from redefining marriage to include two persons of the same sex.
The Illinois Senate passed the legislation in a 34 to 21 vote last week, and the Illinois House Executive Committee has scheduled a hearing for SB 10 for next Tuesday, February 26. If the bill leaves the committee, it will proceed to the Illinois House floor. If passed in the House, Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign it into law, making it nearly impossible to reverse should this contemporary social experiment prove deleterious to society.
After Wednesday's pro-marriage rally, Illinois Family Action's executive director David E. Smith expressed frustration about how few media sources covered the rally in Springfield, and the inaccurate numbers reported by the ones that did. His frustration is understandable.
After all, thousands left their jobs, gathered up their families and headed to the Capitol in the middle of the week. Busloads of church members from minority communities joined the cause. It was a tremendous effort, and it was noticed by both media and lawmakers. Those thousands of concerned citizens represented an over-looked majority in Illinois - hard-working, thoughtful people that simply ask that their government respect their religious views and not denigrate their faith, or treat as less valid their position as to what the definition of marriage should be.
Religious freedoms were lost in Illinois when same sex civil unions were enacted two years ago. Catholic Charities' services were shuttered because their religious beliefs upheld the definition of marriage to be between one man and one woman. State law and its recognition of same sex civil unions had unraveled a longtime bond between the churches' services and the state's welfare.
Christian business owners holding religious beliefs against same sex civil unions face expensive, potentially business-ending lawsuits because they refuse to embrace the state's new definition of couples.
And despite President Obama's recent plea for fathers to engage in their children's lives, if same sex marriage is legalized, the state will sanction and encourage lesbian couples to raise their families with no connection to the males that biologically produced their family's offspring.
Once the same sex marriage threshold is crossed in Illinois, there will be no returning to the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Few of those that filled the Capitol halls Wednesday are politically-connected and few have had any substantial interaction with their state representatives. While most vote on Election Day, they are focused 24/7 on getting their kids to school and sports practice, keeping their jobs, paying their bills and taxes and getting to church on Sundays. They don't have time to schmooze at Springfield bars and pubs and their tight family budgets don't allow them to attend political fundraisers and fill campaign coffers. They vote to elect men and women that they believe will represent them on issues that matter.
And the definition of marriage matters.
Not one of the folks standing in 19 degree weather would ever act unkind to another human being, even if they disagree politically. They would respectfully listen to the other side of the argument, and even fight for the right of their opponent to voice an opposing opinion, but they stand firm upon the belief that marriage is God-ordained and defined as between a man and a woman.
For many attending Wednesday's rally, marriage is the picture of their Savior Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. To them, defiling that image of perfection and beauty is to bring condemnation on their state and community. Their views should be considered as much as the views of those who hold no value in the state's current legal definition of marriage.
For the most part, social conservatives are Springfield political family's red-haired stepchildren and gay rights activists who've developed relationships and won the hearts of politicians are the Springfield political ruling class' preferred, enlightened family members. There had to be a lot of sneering Wednesday as arrogant insiders looked out the Capitol windows to the string of average Illinoisans waiting for an hour to enter the building while political insiders simply flashed their Capitol IDs.
The whole discussion about same sex marriage has come down to who has the most influence at the State Capitol - average, church going taxpayers or insider politicians with friends in high places. We shall see over the next few weeks as the same sex marriage debate rolls out in Illinois.