Thursday, December 20, 2012

Equality in Illinois?

My native Illinois may enact marriage equality next month, a little over two years since it created marriage-like civil unions. The move comes in the wake of three states enacting marriage equality at the ballot box last month, and polls consistently showing most Americans support marriage equality, as do most Illinoisans.

This week the Chicago Sun-Times said in an editorial that “It’s time for gay marriage in Illinois. Not in the distant future. Not in the near future. But now.” The Chicago Tribune has not yet editorialised on the proposal, but in the past it has supported marriage equality.

Now wingnuts, anti-gay hate groups, bigots and religious extremists have come together to “The Coalition To Protect Children & Marriage," a hilariously ironic name, since marriage equality is what protects children and marriage, not preventing marriage equality. The far right opponents are veritable who’s who of extremists (mostly religious, some secular), anti-gay bigots and far right crackpots. The group is led by a Republican ex-state legislator who was once the leading anti-gay bigot in the Illinois House of Representatives, until her extremism became too much even for her staunchly Republican district and she lost her own party’s primary. She now heads the group founded by Illinois’ leading wingnut crackpot, the completely irrelevant Phyllis Schlafly, whose career is now made up of desperate attempts to convince people she and her stone age ideas matter to anyone other than her fellow wingnuts. The reality is, she hasn’t been relevant in Illinois or US politics for a generation.

So, what we have on one side, supporting marriage equality, are mainstream voters and the political and media establishment. On the other is nothing more than the usual cabal of the crazy, extreme and bigoted, a cadre of negativism that mainstream people don’t want anything to do with. This bodes well for Illinois.

If the Illinois General Assembly does enact marriage equality next month, Governor Pat Quinn has pledged to sign it into law, and that will be that: Illinois doesn’t permit binding referenda from citizens, so all the negativists and haters could do is get an advisory referendum on the ballot—basically, a taxpayer-funded opinion poll.

We have passed the tipping point in the marriage equality debate. Even if the Illinois legislature doesn’t enact marriage equality next month, it is inevitable that it will, sooner rather than later. Time and history are on our side, something even the shrill negativists and haters know. The power of love is unstoppable.

No comments: