Looks like the battle over marriage equality is headed to the heartland. Just in from Equality Illinois comes news that three Democrat representatives have introduced legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois passed a civil union bill last year, but the problems with the law have already started to pour in; civil unions just aren't regarded as being on equal footing with marriages. Equality Illinois Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Cherkasov, writes:
Moments ago, Representatives Greg Harris, Deb Mell, and Kelly Cassidy filed a marriage equality bill in [the] Illinois General Assembly.
We commend these leaders for taking yet another step towards full equality for lesbian and gay families in Illinois, and we are grateful to them for their leadership. This is just the beginning: the road to marriage equality is sure to be long, but it is one that we must travel together.
In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient's civil union partner didn't think it's the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love - are also equal in marriage.
So let's see - that means Washington State, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois are currently trying to pass marriage equality legislation and it looks quite possible for the first three to pass their respective bills within months. If the legislation passes in Illinois, weddings wouldn't start until 2013.
Maine is going back to the ballot to overturn a marriage amendment (and therefore allow same-sex marriage again) and yesterday's Prop 8 ruling could result in wedding bliss this year for California couples if opponents decide to skip appealing the ruling or the Supreme Court refuses to intervene.
Other states - Minnesota, North Carolina, and Indiana - are currently trying to pass constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and/or domestic partner benefits. I wonder which states are doing better dealing in the collapsing economy and which states are seeing more brain drain. I think we know.