Same-sex marriage progresses through general assembly, Woodford supporters comment

Sean McGowan

SPRINGFIELD — Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, became the only Republican senator to vote yes on the same-sex marriage bill Feb. 14.

This would also make him the sole Woodford County district representative to do so. He said voting “yes” seemed morally righteous.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a vote that I understand some have varying opinions on, but I feel that I voted in the correct way.”

Gay rights advocates not in a position of power such as Barickman may choose to form alliances instead. The Eureka Alliance, a Eureka College student-run organization, is one of these groups. Eureka Alliance president Boyd Critz said the organization wants to ensure that Eureka College students receive fair treatment.

“It is the underlying mission of our group to ensure that all Eureka College students be treated equally both on campus and under the law,” he said.

Critz said the bill moving through the Illinois General Assembly would help realize that equality for students.

“While we have not discussed the bill, and thus have no official statement regarding the matter, I can assure (the public) that we are in full support of the bill,” he said.

According to Michael Madigan, speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, he will allow the same-sex marriage bill to come up later in the spring. The bill could remain in limbo until May.

State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, said he plans to vote in favor of the bill. The majority of representatives in the House are Democrats — 71 of the 118 total members. Republicans consist of only 47 members.

Democrats made up 33 of the 34 “yes” votes in the senate. Gov. Pat Quinn announced he will sign the bill if it passes.

Beginning with Massachusetts in 2004, same-sex marriage legislation continues to turn up in different areas of the country. Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Vermont, Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

Three states other than Illinois are contemplating same-sex marriage legislation.

Quinn pushed a measure in 2010 to allow civil unions in Illinois. The bill passed and remains in effect today.

A civil union does not allot the same benefits as marriage, for instance, the right to file a joint tax return. Some states also do not recognize civil unions, thus nullifying the bond if the couple moves to one of these states.

The Defense of Marriage Act makes same-sex marriages moot on a federal level. Former President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in 1996. However, President Barack Obama said during an ABC News interview that he will support same-sex marriage.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said.

Illinois residents also experienced a change of heart over time. A Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll — of Southern Illinois University Carbondale — showed that support of same-sex marriage went from 33.6 percent of Illinoisans in 2010 to 45.5 percent as of Feb. 14. The institute released these findings shortly before the Illinois Senate vote occurred.