Illinois civil unions bill clears final hurdle, awaits Gov. Quinn's signature
By Kyle Maichle
The debate over civil unions on the Senate floor was very heated. When compared to the debate on the floor of the State House on November 30, 2010, observers considered the debate less emotionally charged despite a closer vote was expected. During the debate, one Chicago Area State Senator took a swipe back at State Rep. Ron Stephens comments from the House floor on November 30th claiming that open sexuality led to the fall of Greece and Rome.
State Senator Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago) rebutted back at Stephens by saying: “I hate the hypocrisy. Aren’t you sick of the hypocrisy by now? When I sit here, I hear adulterers, womanizers, folks who cheat on their wives on the down low, brothers saying they’re going to vote against the bill. It turns my stomach.”
All the Republican State Senators, except for one, voted against the civil unions bill. Senator Kyle McCarter said on the floor of the Senate before voting: "I just believe it's wrong to not show the, to honor and respect the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, and I think this is the wrong direction to go for the state of Illinois." Also, Senator Dan Duffy told FOX Chicago News that he opposed the bill because of the lack of fiscal impact being disclosed towards the state's $13 billion dollar budget deficit.
Reverend Senator and 2011 Chicago Mayoral candidate James Meeks voted against the civil unions bill. Rev. Meeks was the only Democrat Senator to vote against the bill. State Senator and Illinois Treasurer-Elect Dan Rutherford was the only Republican to vote for the bill. When Senator Rutherford made his remarks to support the bill, gay rights activists in attendance loudly applauded the Rutherford's actions.
Despite Governor Pat Quinn would sign the civil unions bill into law, the Governor is facing pressure to veto the law from religious leaders. FOX Chicago News also reported that the Governor, who is a practicing Catholic, received a phone call from a Catholic Bishop to veto the bill. The Illinois Catholic Conference issued a statement denouncing the law after the Senate vote and said that religious liberty is under attack in Illinois with civil unions being legalized.