Democrat leaders Governor Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan have publicly stated their support for gay marriage in Illinois. Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk also supports the effort. Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady lobbied state senators contrary to the IL GOP's platform to support traditional marriage. Tuesday, after continued pressure from within his party, Brady submitted his resignation.
State Rep. John Barickman of Champaign was the only Republican to support gay marriage in the Illinois Senate vote. Republican State Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and State Rep. Ed Sullivan of Mundelein both indicate they intend to support same sex marriage. The vote is very close in the Illinois House, and the debate gets a little more intense each week as lawmakers hear from constituents on the issue, prompted by robo calls and rallies in their districts.
Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, who has been mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for attorney general in 2014, entered Illinois same sex marriage debate when he spoke at a rally in front of State Rep. Ed Sullivan's Mundelein district office last month. He reinterated his reasons for opposing the effort before the Illinois House with a letter he wrote to Rep. Sullivan.
Curran's legal career bio is substantial. Not only has he served as sheriff of the county just north of Chicago since 2006, his 20 years in law enforcement include serving as assistant Lake County state's attorney, assistant Illinois attorney general, special assistant United States attorney, special conflict public defender and time as interim Lake County coroner.
In the letter to Rep. Sullivan, he gave three main reasons based on his experience and expertise in criminal justice:
"First, same sex marriage is not in the best interest of children; Second, same sex marriage is not in the best interest of society; and Third, same sex marriage will result in the loss of liberty for those opposed to same sex marriage."
Curran told Sullivan that the overwhelming majority of people incarcerated in this country are male, up to approximately 90 percent in most correctional institutions.
"The single greatest common denominator of those incarcerated in this country is the absence of a father in their lives," he said. "Some studies show approximately 85 percent of those in correctional institutions had no relationship with their fathers. All reliable studies show a boy that does not know his father is more than twice as likely to wind up incarcerated."
Curran said natural law indicates that men and women are equal in dignity but different in gifts.
"Men and women are truly unique. The recent societal lie of egalitarianism, or the fact that there are no differences between the sexes, defies logic and is being used to promote self-serving agendas that are also not in the best interests of children," he said.
Then Curran wrote that single parents deserve love and support, but that the legislature "should promote traditional marriage because one man and one woman is the best way to raise children."
Sheriff Curran reinterated the absence of fathers as being common among those committing violent crimes and being incarcerated. "How many of those gang members that killed innocent children had no relationshiph with their fathers?" he asked in the letter.
Religious liberty will be eroded if same sex marriage becomes law, Curran said. "We have seen the false promises that liberty will be protected in other recent pieces of legislation, but we know this is a lie."
"Our love for those with same sex attractions is infinite," Curran concluded in the letter, referring to Rep. Sullivan's public comment that his own mother-in-law being in a same sex relationship caused him to commit to voting for same sex marriage.
But Curran said those personal attachments should be secondary to the bigger picture.
"Our motivation in opposing this legislation is our love for our country, our state, our communities, our neighbors, our children and gradnchildren and those that have yet to come."
SB 10 passed the Illinois Senate already this session, and sponsor State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) has said he won't call the bill to the House floor unless he has the needed 60 votes.
Illinois Review has extended to Rep. Sullivan the opportunity to respond.