A month ago (a month!) I took a trip with Equality Illinois to Springfield, IL to lobby my legislators to support SB 1716. SB 1716 proposes to allow two persons in Illinois to enter into a civil union, regardless of gender. Here’s a good overview of Illinois political movement on SB 1716. (Spoiler alert: not much.) It was an excellent day for me to learn more about legislating in Illinois, meet people from all over the state, and leave some friendly notes for my representatives (one of whom was out of town, and one of whom could not be pinned down.)
Since then I’ve been up to my ears in my usual organizing with Join the Impact Chicago, as well as joining LGBT Change, as well as dedicating a few hours to this civil unions bill. I’ll get more into that later, but let’s start with every queer’s question on this issue: support a civil unions bill? That is so 2004. Why bother?
I could go into a couple of heartwarming stories (note to self: this blog needs more heartwarming stories) of couples with decades of loyalty to each other but no legal protection from the state. Or I could take the pragmatic approach, using Massachusetts as a model of how civil unions soften the way for marriage equality. Or I could take a far left tack in the LGBTQ contingent and demand civil unions for all and an abolition of marriage entirely.
All of those are perfectly fine arguments, but when it comes down to it, here’s what I care about: Illinois is getting left out in the cold. When you look at maps of marriage equality over the last 10 years, you see states slowly being shaded in for domestic partnerships, for civil unions, for equal marriage.
There is an equal marriage bill in the Illinois legislature; it’s dead in the water. If anything is going to be passed this year, it’s SB 1716. If it doesn’t pass this year, we’re likely to have a new governor next year hostile to LGBTQ rights (and a lot of other rights, too). Which means further delays in the LGBTQ movement in Illinois, which means waiting years to start this process all over again (and next time for marriage equality!). We need civil unions this year in Illinois. Not just for the legal recognition of thousands of LGBTQ couples in Illinois, but for the LGBTQ movement as a whole. We need to change the map.
I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to an Illinois state senator or representative, but mostly it’s like wading through molasses. Still, with that cheery recommendation, how bout calling your rep and seeing how they feel about SB1716? It’s a big election year, feel free to take advantage of that.
For a quick, enjoyable, only slightly-out-f-date run-down on marriage equality across the US, I highly recommend
this piece by NPR. Includes a more comprehensive map!