Iowa Gay Marriage Ruling Could Set the Tone in the Prairie State
May 5, 2009
Springfield, IL – The recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa is credited for helping build momentum for civil union legislation in Illinois. House Bill 2234, the Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act, would legalize civil unions and grant same-sex couples in a civil union many of the same legal rights as married couples. The legislation is currently waiting for a vote in the Illinois House.
Rick Garcia with Equality Illinois is hopeful that the Iowa decision to legalize gay marriage will persuade Illinois to take a step in the same direction.
"Iowa is a state in the heart of the heartland that has recognized same-sex marriage, and a lot of Illinoisans are saying, 'Well, what about us - why not here?'"
If the act is adopted, those in a civil union would be granted the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as married individuals, such as the right to make emergency medical decisions or funeral arrangements for a partner. While opponents say civil unions are an attack on traditional marriage, supporters say this is about recognizing relationships, not legalizing gay marriage.
Addressing concerns that civil unions will violate religious teachings on marriage, the bill affirms that no religious institution or denomination can be forced to solemnize civil unions. Garcia agrees that religion and matters of the state should not mix.
"In some of our religious traditions we don't recognize divorce and remarriage, and yet the state does. It's so important to separate the sacrament of matrimony from civil marriage."