Equality Illinois has compiled the top five marriage equality myths:

MYTH: Marriage equality changes the definition of marriage.

FALSE. Allowing same-sex couples to get married does not change the definition of marriage. Marriage will remain an institution entered into by two people who love each other and seek to make a lifetime commitment to each other and protect their families.

MYTH: If marriage equality is legalized, all churches and religious institutions will be forced to perform same-sex marriages and recognize those unions as legitimate. 

FALSE. Marriage equality legalizes civil marriage for same-sex couples. This means that religious institutions are not affected in any way. No religious institution would ever be forced to marry same-sex couples or recognize same-sex marriages within their belief system.

MYTH: Marriages between gays and lesbians have a negative effect on children. 

FALSE. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage harms children by denying them and their families the rights, protection, and sense of legitimacy that comes with legal marriage. Studies consistently show that children of gay and lesbian couples are equally as well adjusted as those of opposite-sex couples. In fact, all major child welfare experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association support the freedom of same-sex couples to marry because all families benefit from the protections and security that marriage brings. Millions of children are currently being raised by a same-sex couple and the only way to ensure these children have the same rights, benefits, and protections as their neighbors and classmates is if their parents are allowed to be married.

MYTH: Illinois already has civil unions and those provide the same rights as marriage. 

FALSE. Civil unions are not equal to marriages. The institution of marriage has a long legal and cultural history, so employers, businesses, and other societal actors know how to treat married couples, which is not the same for civil unions. Equality Illinois has documented numerous instances where private institutions, such as businesses, have not recognized civil unions as equal to marriage for the purpose of providing benefits. Because of the confusion over the status and rights of civil union couples, they are constantly unsure of how they will be treated by different people around their state. The bottom line is, because civil unions and marriages are two separate institutions, this implies that the love and commitment that same-sex couples share is less valid than that of opposite-sex couples who have the option of being married. 

MYTH: Marriage is a historical institution that has so far remained unchanged. 

FALSE. Marriage has actually evolved throughout history to meet the needs of our society. At various points in the past it was common to have arranged marriages, women were thought of as inferior their husbands, the woman’s family had to pay a dowry, and first cousins often got married. Biblical heroes had multiple wives or else had children with their daughters. Until 1967, states defined marriage as a union limited to people of the same race. During the decades when the majority of Americans supported bans on interracial marriage, proponents of the ban called marriage between a man and woman of different races “unnatural,” anti-religious, and claimed that our society would become eroded if the definition of marriage was altered and broadened. Today, these arguments against interracial marriage seem dated and bigoted, but the same language is being used to attack equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Illinois Unites for Marriage, a project of ACLU Illinois, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal
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