A coalition of religious groups are
calling on Illinois lawmakers to reject a proposed gay marriage law.
An effort to approve the bill during
the General Assembly's lame-duck session, which includes outgoing
lawmakers, came to a sudden stop on Thursday as Senator Heather
Steans, a Democrat from Chicago, called off a vote in the Senate at
the last minute. Steans said three supporters, two Democrats and a
Republican, were not present to vote during the chamber's brief 2-day
session. She pledged the fight would continue in the next
legislative session, which begins Wednesday.
The coalition of faith leaders warned
lawmakers that the proposed marriage reform falls short because it
does not exempt individuals.
“The ongoing attempts to alter the
definition of marriage in civil law are full of serious danger,
primarily by degrading the cultural understanding of marriage to an
emotional bond between any two adults and by giving rise to a
profound interference with the exercise of religious freedom for
those persons and religious institutions whose faith and doctrine
recognize the spiritual foundation of marriage as an authorized union
between a man and a woman,” the
leaders wrote in a letter.
“Some claim that as long as religious
ministers are not forced to preside over same-sex 'marriages' the
principle of religious freedom, as secured in the U.S. Constitution's
First Amendment is protected. However, the notion that the exercise
of religious freedom is confined to the interior of churches,
synagogues, temples or mosques or what one does on Holy Days is wrong
and dangerous. The freedom of religion also extends to the
ministries of religious organizations and to the individual
conscience. Thus, the real peril: if marriage is redefined in civil
law, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply
held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the
equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations.
Compulsion of this nature is a violation of personal conscience and
of religious liberty.”
The letter is signed by leaders in the
Anglican Church of North America, the Catholic Conference of
Illinois, The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and The Lutheran
Church Missouri Synod.