Urge Illinois Lawmakers to Resist Pressure from Anti-Gay Religious Groups

religion not my gov

Target: Illinois House of Representatives

Goal: Stand strong against the pressures of anti-gay religious organizations by legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois.

As Illinois comes closer to becoming the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage, many residents and state politicians, including Governor Pat Quinn, have shown enthusiasm for the civil rights law. About two dozen conservative Catholics and African American clergy from Illinois, however, have recently denounced the same-sex marriage bill known as the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. They have formed a religious coalition with the Catholic Conference of Illinois condemning the morality of same-sex marriage and warned Illinois lawmakers that they will be banned from the churches if they vote in favor of the bill. The group plans to launch a media campaign and lobby 75 churches to urge members to tell their representatives to vote against same-sex marriage.

These clergy members are abusing their status as church and community leaders by exercising their power to influence politics in order to prohibit civil rights equality. In fact, they may even be in violation of their religious tax-exempt status, which states that they “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.” The group is in clear violation of this requirement by using billboard, radio, and TV advertisements in their attempt to directly pressure legislators.

Some detractors of the bill argue that Illinois’ approval of civil unions for same-sex couples should be “good enough,” harkening back to the “separate but equal” measures during the Civil Rights era, which clearly resulted in further inequality for minorities. Others claim that approval of same-sex marriage undermines traditional heterosexual marriage. In reality, however, the bill would only legally recognize same-sex marriage and would in no way force religious organizations to perform or recognize the unions.

As Illinois representatives will soon vote on the bill, we need to show support for marriage equality. Sign the petition below to urge the representatives resist the religious coalition’s pressures and to pass the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear members of the Illinois House of Representatives,

It is an exciting time for civil rights equality as Illinois comes closer to joining the nine other states that allow same-sex marriage. As representatives of Illinois residents, you have the privilege to help the Prairie State progress into a place that respects and accepts all people, regardless of sexual orientation. As you are well aware, however, this crucial time in history is not without difficulty.

Recently, about two dozen of conservative Catholics and African American clergy from Illinois have denounced the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. They have formed a religious coalition with the Catholic Conference of Illinois condemning the morality of same-sex marriage and warned Illinois lawmakers that they will be banned from the churches if they vote in favor of the bill. The group plans to launch a media campaign and lobby 75 churches to urge members to tell their representatives to vote against same-sex marriage. These clergy members are abusing their status as church and community leaders by exercising their power to influence politics in order to prohibit civil rights equality. In fact, they may even be in violation of their tax-exempt status as religious organizations.

You have and will continue to face those who insist on resisting civil rights progress. Some detractors argue that the Illinois’ approval of civil unions for same-sex couples should be “good enough,” harkening back to the “separate but equal” measures of the 1960s. Others claim that approval of same-sex marriage undermines traditional heterosexual marriage, even though the bill would in no way force religious organizations to perform or recognize the unions.

We urge you to stay strong and not succumb to the pressures of the anti-gay bigotry espoused by the religious coalition. Vote yes on the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: mind on fire via Flickr

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