Tag Archives: politics

Civil Unions Now! Wait, what?

So awhile back on this blog I went to Springfield to lobby for Civil Unions. You’ll notice in the post that my argument for CU was largely “it changes the map”. And look! Look at the map! Now Illinois also gets to be shaded in (lightly).

Same-Sex Marriage Laws U.S.

Yep, the Illinois law takes effect June 1, which totally coincidentally and not on purpose means that our marriage gets recognized as a civil union in Illinois. We don’t have to file any extra paperwork or register or anything. Just as Illinois automatically understands that straight marriages performed elsewhere are marriages, now they’ll grant that gay marriages performed elsewhere (and civil unions performed in other civil-uniony states) are civil unions.

There’s mixed reaction to this news. On the whole, it’s a positive step. Politically, it changes the map. Practically, it offers a lot more security for couples and families. Personally, it helps me get better health insurance!

On the other hand, it is a newly invented classification to keep same-sex couples out of traditional marriage. It offers an equivalent system of legal rights and benefits under a big sign that says “You’re Still Too Different From Us”. So, if Lindsey and I weren’t getting married in Iowa, we probs wouldn’t be getting civil unioned in Illinois*. We don’t have shared property or frail health or children or much else to make the incentives of civil unions worth the annoyance of them existing. Not too mention civil unions are sooo five years ago. Marriage equality is in this spring.

*Btw, you can read about our and other couples’ feelings on this matter in the June 9 issue of TimeOut Chicago. They’re doing a story on just this topic.

As always, you can help change this! If you’re in Chicago, you should come to the Rally to Repeal DOMA on Saturday June 11. It’s in Boystown, so you can support some community engagement before going out for different community engagement. Also, slim chance I might be speaking at the rally. So it might also be an excellent chance to see me be really, really nervous.
And if you’re not in Chicago, people do this everywhere. Find them and get involved.

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Memorial Day

Welcome to June, everybody. I hope you had a lovely Memorial Day. On Sunday, I hosted my older sister’s bridal shower and watched old home movies. On Monday, I laughed a lot with friends and ate four delicious kinds of pasta salad.

And speaking of our Armed Forces, if you missed it, here is a summary of the House vote that would allow for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. It’s important to remember that gay and lesbian soldiers already serve in all branches of our military; the repeal of this policy would, for the first time, allow them to serve openly. This article in Foreign Policy will give you a good idea of why that’s an important distinction (apologies for the over-dramatic crucifixion graphic).

State by state

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.)

Bob, Neil, Clif at the Springfield Capitol (Photo mine)

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.

Orange (5 +DC): marriage equality Gold (5): equivalent spousal rights Yellow (4): some spousal rights Stripes (2): recognizes other states' marriages

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!

Workplace discrimination

This is a swerve away from marriage equality and romance in general, but it’s still kinda sexy. I have like 2 minutes, so I’ll make it fast:

Join the Impact Chicago, a group near and dear to me, was involved in a protest on Thursday, as part of the Harvey Milk Week of Action. We organized some street theater in Federal Plaza, while 13  Harvey Milk Week of Action coalition activists presented a petition to Sen. Dick Durbin’s office. We’re calling on Senator Durbin to advocate for the passage of ENDA (the Employment Nondiscrimination Act) this year. The sit-in didn’t last very long, as the Senator’s staff called ICE pretty quickly.

You can sign the petition here! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/PASS-ENDA-NOW

The action was picked up by the following media:

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/21/gay-activists-arrested-ou_n_584704.html

Towelroad: http://www.towleroad.com/2010/05/watch-activists-sitin-at-senator-dick-durbins-chicago-office-demand-he-sign-enda-pledge.html

Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/05/20/ENDA_Protesters_Arrested_in_Senate_Office/

Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-48969-Chicago-LGBT-Events-Examiner~y2010m5d21-Second-class-citizens-rally-in-support-of-ENDA

Joe My God: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2010/05/chicago-thirteen-arrested-at-enda-sit.html

Americablog Gay: http://gay.americablog.com/2010/05/enda-protesters-arrested-in-durbins.html

ChicagoPride.com: http://www.chicagopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/1077636

Windy City Times: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=26651

Chicago Now – About a boy: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/whats-a-boy-to-do/2010/05/13-lgbt-activists-arrested-after-sit-in-at-senator-durbins-office.html

Back2Stonewall: http://www.back2stonewall.com/2010/05/13-chicago-gay-rights-activists.html