Quick Hit Thursday March 24th, 2011, 10:03am

Anti-Gay Bills Unlikely To Go Far In General Assembly

Just two weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples in Illinois, a trio of bills restricting gay rights were introduced in the General Assembly. Fortunately, one has already failed and the others will likely have the same fate. Still, they show that the fight for gay rights is certainly not over in the Prairie State.

A bill (SB 1993) that would have allowed “faith-based policies or practices” for religious institutions providing adoption services -- effectively allowing for religious discrimination against a prospective parent -- was struck down in the Senate Human Services Committee last week. Concerned that any religious organization condemning homosexuality could deny them adoption rights, advocates for gay rights like the ACLU and Equality Illinois worked to make sure SB 1993 would fail. ACLU’s Ed Yohnka told the Windy City Times, "We've got too many kids who've already need good homes, we don't need to start carving up the pool of potential foster parents or parents on the basis of ideology or bias."

With the Child Welfare Act already in place to protect the religious beliefs of the birth parents and the child, SB 1993 would have amended the state’s Child Care Act to allow for the adopting agency’s religious preferences too. The bill would have required the agency to disclose any religious policies to the prospective parent before applying fees, and to the birth parents before placement.

Two other anti-gay bills have been introduced -- HJRCA 10 and SJRCA 16 -- both of which would amend the Constitution to define marriage as "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in Illinois." Both bills are stalled and are likely to see the same fate as SB 1993.

Comments

Just a minor correction to Sally Ho's otherwidse accurate article on the anti-gay bills before the Illinois General Assembly.

It was the ACLU, the Civil Rights Agenda and I who fought against the adoption and foster care bill.  Equality Illinois chose not to actively oppose this piece of anti-gay legislation.

EI CEO, Bernard Cherkasov told this week's Windy City Times, "Having the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization lead a public fight against a faith-based adoption bill would have done more to antagonize our opponents than to add to our success. Instead, we continue to work with our allies in the General Assembly, and we are especially grateful to State Senator Heather Steans for her leadership in ensuring that the bill does not succeed."

I guess fighting anti-gay pieces of legislation is no longer a priority for Equality Illinois since it has decided to go in a 'new direction'. It will leave that messy work to legislators themselves and a handful of activists who are still committed to ensuring that every one of us is treated fairly and equitably.

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