The Illinois House Executive Committee voted 6 – 5 late Tuesday, advancing legislation to legalize the freedom to marry in Illinois. The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act [SB 10] now moves to the full House, where the issue is expected to meet its toughest test.
Preceding the vote, a number of individuals offered their testimony before the committee. Laura Berk, Illinois State University psychologist, testified that “gay and lesbian parents are as committed to and as effective at child rearing” as their opposite-sex counterparts. “Every major mental health organization endorsed findings that lesbian and gay parents are equally geared to raising happy, healthy children,” she said.
Anticipating the forthcoming anti-gay testimonials, Berk eviscerated Mark Regnerus’ flawed paper in the journal Social Science Research. The study, which every single anti-gay conservative organization has cited it as evidence that same-sex couples are inferior parents, was subject to an internal audit, meaning the paper should be treated “as if it had never been published,” noted Berk. In reality, said Berk, “Research tells us overall that children fair best with two parents in a stable loving relationship irrespective of gender.”
As predicted, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, a smart person from NOM’s Ruth Institute, built her entire testimony upon the debunked Regnerus study. “Treating different things differently is not discrimination,” said Morse, failing to realize that she had just spat out the literal definition of “discrimination.” In another bizarre appeal to the House Executive Committee, Morse wondered if legislators were prepared to travel to the “the South side of Chicago, where many children have never seen a father” and tell them that fathers are not necessary. Shortly thereafter they cut her crazy ass off and moved on.
Kellie Fiedorek, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay Christian litigation group, spent most of her time on the floor discussing how marriage equality for Illinoisans “advances religious intolerance and discrimination towards Illinois citizens with sincerely held religious beliefs.” While admitting that the bill does exempt religious institutions from sanctioning same-sex unions, Fiedorek lamented the fact that the bill does not include any “protections” for clerks and judges who might wish to discriminate. No, Kellie—There is not a clause in SB 10 that allows for clerks and judges to discriminate against gays and lesbians whose tax dollars pay the salaries of government employees. Fiedorek was also concerned about wedding venues who do not agree with same-sex marriage. Oh god, please, somebody think of the gazebos!
To pass the full House, 60 votes are needed. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has vowed to sign the legislation, a move that would make Illinois the 10th state in the nation to allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.