SPRINGFIELD - Despite concerns raised about the rights of churches and church members to exercise their religious freedoms if their convictions oppose same sex marriage, the Senate Executive Committee voted 9 to 5 to pass SB 10 to the Senate floor.
Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) asked several questions of Lamda Legal attorney Chris Clark about whether SB 10 would force churches to defend their religious freedoms in court.
"We have not seen a run on the courthouses post the civil unions law, or in other states that have allowed marriage equality," Clark said.
Clark was challenging concerns raised by the Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Joe LaRue, who raise concerns about legal challenges churches and religious individuals might face in businesses, especially those that are involved in facilitating marriage ceremonies.
"This bill does not offer protections" for churches or persons who object religiously to same sex marriages, LaRue told the committee.
Clark responded that the same sex marriage bill does not change the Illnois Human Rights Act nor the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the protections they provide based on sexual orientation or religious convictions.
Concerns about religious freedoms stirred when Catholic Charities in Illinois were forced to end their adoption and foster services after the state required they include same sex couples involved in civil unions in their search for adoptive parents. Catholic Charities received funds from the state to facilitate their efforts in finding parents for nearly 100 years, but refused to include same sex couples in their considerations. The State of Illinois severed the working relationship after the civil unions measure became law.
SB 10 will move to the Illinois Senate floor. Senator Cullerton has said he expects the bill to be called for a vote on Valentine's Day.