Illinois Gay Unions Challenged in Push for Constitutional Amendment
Illinois sees its civil unions law take effect on Wednesday whereby same-sex couples will be able to access all the state-sanctioned rights of marriage, but anti-gay groups announced last week that they will be working to put the issue of gay unions before voters in a 2012 referendum.
From On Top Magazine:
At a Friday rally in downtown Chicago that got started at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, opponents rallied against the law and launched a petition drive to constitutionally ban gay marriage.
“The civil unions bill has been shoved down our throat without the people having a chance to vote on it,” Richard Walsh of Americans for Life told Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV.
“We’re announcing an advisory referendum petition to put on the ballot in 2012 to call on the legislature to pass a binding marriage amendment which would protect marriage — the definition between one man and one woman,” said Americans for Truth about Homosexuality President Peter LaBarbera.
“There’s a battle between gay rights and religious freedom. We want to give Illinois voters the same opportunity other states have had. Whether they are red or blue, states seem to go the same way,” LaBarbera told the Chicago Tribune.
It would appear that not only would the ban prevent same-sex marriage but, like some other constitutional bans, may go further to deny same-sex couples the ability to access any marriage-like institution and rights.
Such pervasive bans have been questioned as constitutionally suspect in the past.
Also, while Mr. LaBarbera cites that voters have always traditionally denied gay marriage at the ballot whether the state is red or blue, marriage-like unions have faired slightly better such as in Washington where a broad domestic partnership law was approved by voters in 53.15% to 46.85% vote in 2009.
The margin by which gay marriage has been denied at the ballot has narrowed considerably in recent years too and so success is certainly not assured, especially when a large proportion of Illinois citizens favor civil unions — and what is more, a greater proportion may feel it unjust to take away civil unions at the 2012 ballot given that, by that time, the law will have been in place for over a year.