The Illinois Restaurant Association
(IRA) on Thursday announced its support for a bill that seeks to make
Illinois the 14th state to legalize gay marriage.
“As owners of small and large
businesses, our members know the importance of treating all customers
equally,” said IRA President Sam Toia in an emailed statement.
“It's the right thing to do – and it's good for business.”
The group called on the Illinois House
to approve a marriage bill, which stalled in the House after clearing
the Senate on Valentine's Day, when lawmakers reconvene later this
Toia pointed to a study by the Williams
Institute at the UCLA School of Law showing that marriage equality
would generate up to $103 million in spending in the state within the
first three years of legalization.
“As a businessman, I worry that
Illinois is falling behind,” Toia said.
Illinois is one of four states where
gay and lesbian couples are recognized with civil unions, not
marriage – the other three are New Jersey, Hawaii and Colorado.
Following a Supreme Court decision in June which gutted much of the
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government started
recognizing the unions of gay couples in a marriage, leaving couples
in a civil union at a distinct disadvantage in terms of benefits.
Jersey judge won't delay order legalizing gay marriage.)