Daily Illini: State House and Gov. Quinn should make Illinois the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage

  ·  Daily Illini Editorial Board, Daily Illini   ·   Link to Article

It started with Massachusetts in 2004, and if the Illinois state House allows it as the state Senate did Thursday, Illinois will be the 10th state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

So far, supporters of same-sex marriage in Illinois are anxiously awaiting the House to call a vote on the marriage legislation just passed by the Senate 34-21. Gov. Quinn has already promised his John Hancock for the bill, and we fully expect him to follow through on it.


But now, it’s a waiting game. The House, once it is sure it can pass the bill, will easily push it on through. Because of the chamber’s Democratic supermajority, the question is not if it will pass, but when it will pass.

For years, the hesitation with changing the laws regarding the issue was surely its religious overtones. Marriage began as a religious institution, and governments the world around began to codify its existence in the law books. But as Americans have become more accepting of same-sex marriage, that viewpoint is shifting faster and faster.

A state with as large and diverse of a population as Illinois can prove to be an effective testing ground for new ideas like marriage legislation. As more and more states pass laws allowing for two people of the same sex to wed, more will jump on the bandwagon. Furthermore, the higher the success rate for such an idea, which was once considered to be overtly radical, the more likely other states will do the same.

Even those states in which lawmakers and citizens stand staunchly opposed to this kind of legislation will eventually crop up as a form of political socialization of sorts. No matter the institution, given enough pressure from others, states will cave and join the shift.

With enough pressure, no norm — religious or political — can remain unchanged.

Among all of this change, the value and importance of heterosexual marriage will not be tarnished, it will not be broken, it will not be devalued or scarred. By giving someone else the freedom to make a choice about their long-term relationships in front of the law takes nothing away from heterosexual marriage.

About 15 percent of the current U.S. population resides in states where same-sex marriages are legal and adding Illinois to the mix would raise it to 19.7 percent. All of these states tend to lean liberal in national elections, which doesn’t provide a clear example of success for a state that is more conservative. Even with conservative politicians hesitant to go forward with this, one Illinois state senator, Jason Barickman of Champaign did.

And with that courage, we hope the House passes the bill.

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