The Illinois Catholic bishops decried a state Senate vote to permit same-sex marriage, calling it “redefinition of marriage legislation.”
The Senate’s vote was 34-21 on the bill, which changes the definition of marriage in state law from “between a man and a woman” to “between two persons.”
The bill has yet to be considered by the state House. If it passes, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Catholic, has said he will sign it.
If the bill becomes law, Illinois would become the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to permit same-sex marriage, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington state.
There are 29 states with constitutional provisions barring same-sex marriage.
Since January 2011, Illinois has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples giving them the rights of marriage under state law. Other states with civil union laws are Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
However, Rhode Island’s House has passed a same-sex marriage bill, which now resides in the Senate. Hawaii has a bill to allow same-sex marriage, which has not been voted on, and Delaware is expected to have a similar bill introduced.
Also, California, Oregon, Nevada and Wisconsin have some type of domestic-partnership recognition, and Colorado recognizes same-sex unions within the framework of designated beneficiary agreements. Obama, faith-based groups agree. President Barack Obama set out an agenda in his State of the Union address that includes many of the social policy items on the wish list of faith-based organizations.
Among them: an increase in the federal minimum wage, a comprehensive immigration reform law, gun control, and protection from budget cuts for Social Security, Medicare and education programs; job-creation initiatives for struggling segments of the population; development of sustainable energy alternatives and “getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and the well-connected.”
To be sure, Obama’s address also included goals that have their critics in the faith community, such as his promise to provide equal benefits for same-sex partners of members of the military. And on many of Obama’s proposals, Republican members of Congress declined to join in applause and likely will oppose them in Congress.