Why Marriage?

Same-sex couples want to marry for the same reasons all couples do – to protect their families and enter into a lifetime commitment of shared responsibility. All families benefit from the security marriage brings.

State and federal marriage laws are designed to provide legal and economic protections for married couples and their children. Thousands of children in Illinois are already being raised by loving, committed same-sex couples, and those children—like all children—deserve the security that comes from having parents who are married.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a major victory for loving, married couples and their families across the nation. However, since the federal government defers to the states in determining whether a marriage is valid, no overall federal law grants protections to same-sex couples. So in spite of the historic ruling, nothing has changed for Illinois same-sex couples and their families; a civil union is not a marriage.

And while civil unions grant basic state-level legal recognition to committed same-sex relationships, they constitute a second-class status compared to marriage. Everyone understands and honors marriage, but civil union families are not treated with the same respect. Often, in critical situations, civil union families face dire personal situations because of the public’s lack of understanding and the need for additional documentation of their status.

While married couples can enjoy the ability to file joint tax returns, participate in spousal Social Security and veterans’ benefits, and receive the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Illinois families in civil unions still find themselves left out.

These legal protections are important for healthcare, financial planning and the care of children, they are not the main reason that Illinois same-sex couples want the freedom to marry. This Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is about love and commitment and the security that only marriage brings. Marriage says “we are a family” in a way that no other word does.

Importantly, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act protects religious freedom, ensuring that all faiths will decide which marriages can be consecrated within their tradition. The religious exemption language in the bill is very clear: It is and always will be up to each church to decide whom to marry based on their beliefs. No church will ever be forced to recognize a relationship it does not want to.

In our country, freedom means freedom for everybody. That should includes the freedom to marry the person you love. Ultimately, marriage is a fundamental freedom from which no one should be excluded. The pending Illinois legislation will strengthen families by giving couples the tools with which to protect their loved ones and build a secure life together.

Contact Your Legislators


Sign our petition

I support marriage for loving same-sex couples in Illinois and pledge to take action to urge the Illinois General Assembly to pass a marriage bill in 2013.

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