Religious leaders writing in the name of more than 1,700 faith communities in Illinois issued a jointly signed letter (click here) to the Illinois state legislature asking lawmakers to safeguard both traditional marriage and religious freedom by rejecting any legislative efforts to redefine marriage. Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has vowed to sign the legislation should it reach his desk this week. The clerics, representing various Christian denominations as well as Muslims, wrote in their letter that traditional marriage “is the natural order embracing the complementary physical, emotional and spiritual design of men and women.”
The churchmen and imams also warn that simply not being forced to preside over same-sex marriages does nothing to protect religious freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The proposed legislation falls far short of protecting the rights of churches and individuals to freely exercise their religious beliefs and abide their consciences, they note. The letter states, “If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations.” All 177 legislators in the Illinois state deliberative body received a copy of the letter.
State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, have announced they would seek passage of legislation during this month’s lame-duck session that changes the definition of marriage currently set in state law from "between a man and a woman" to "between 2 persons."
The signees of the letter represent a diversity of faith communities, including the Anglican Church in North America, the Catholic Church, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as well as individual Baptist and Evangelical churches.
For his part, Catholic Archbishop Francis George said that the measure is an "affront to reason" in a letter signed by his brother bishops and delivered to Catholics of the Chicago archdiocese on January 30.