* It takes five signatures among the 19 state central committeemen to call for a special Illinois Republican Party meeting. Jim Oberweis couldn’t even get that…
Despite reserving a hotel conference room on his own dime, a Saturday meeting to oust Illinois GOP party chair Pat Brady for statements supporting gay marriage won’t be happening as a suburban state senator has hoped. At least not yet.
And, now that he is spending a bulk of his time down in session in Springfield, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove is hoping some others, including Congressman Randy Hultgren’s former chief of staff will step forward to organize a meeting “as soon as possible.”
In an admonishing Feb. 3 email to fellow state central committeemen obtained by the Daily Herald, Oberweis noted that “I was hoping someone would take a leadership role when the need became apparent but no one stepped up to the plate.” Instead, Oberweis himself attempted to organize a meeting, reserving a conference room at an Aurora Hampton Inn at his own expense, for what he described as “less than a couple hundred” dollars.
But, without the required five signatures of committeemen, hopes for a meeting were dashed.
“It’s now too late to call a meeting for Feb. 9. I’m hoping someone else will pick up the gauntlet,” Oberweis said Tuesday.
* Greg Hinz’s take on Oberweis’ failure…
It looks like that conservative revolt against Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady has fizzled.
* The gay marriage proposal passed the Senate Executive Committee again yesterday. But the Right isn’t giving up yet. From Illinois Review…
Alliance Defending Freedom’s legal counsel Joe LaRue, who testified in the committee hearing on SB 10, said,
The bill to redefine marriage provides inadequate safeguards for religious liberty. It leaves churches and religious organizations at the whim and mercy of the courts, who will have to interpret the marriage redefinition law and how it interacts with Illinois’ public accommodation and employment non-discrimination laws.
Simply put, this bill does not protect churches and religious organizations from having to rent their facilities to same-sex couples for wedding ceremonies, even when doing so violates the church’s religious beliefs. Nor does the bill protect churches and religious organizations from being forced to hire employees from same-sex marriages. The bill also provides no protection for individuals, like wedding photographers, who object to same-sex marriages but may be asked because of their business to participate in same-sex ceremonies.
This law does not protect religious freedom as it claims. Rather, it promotes religious intolerance, bigotry and discrimination.
* On to the coverage. * Champaign News-Gazette…
Danielle Cook of Farmer City, who already has a civil union with her partner, Suzie Hutton, told state senators Tuesday that she wants a full-fledged marriage because “marriage is the standard in our society.”
The Senate Executive Committee, in a 9-5 party-line vote, approved a bill (SB 10) allowing gay marriage in Illinois. It now moves to the full Senate, where passage is considered likely. But it may find a tougher time in the House.
“In numerous settings and in ways big and small, we learned that a civil union is not the same as being married,” Cook said. “It’s not really recognized or understood as marriage is. After getting a civil union, for example, we decided to add Suzie to the health care plan at my work. Everyone and my employer knew that Suzie and I had been together for years. Everyone knew that we were getting a civil union. When I contacted the human-resources department, I was told that we would have to produce the civil-union certificate before Suzie could be added to my plan. That department does not ask anyone for a marriage license, but they asked us for a civil-union certificate.”
Further, she noted that forms at doctor’s offices have boxes for “single,” “married” and “divorced,” but not for civil unions.
“The message was sent in other, more personal ways as well. It even came in how individuals responded to learning that we had gotten a civil union,” she said.
But the Rev. Keith Williams of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church of Country Club Hills said he was in “vehement opposition” because same-sex marriage goes against basic tenets of the Bible.
“This bill puts the state very much in the church’s business, and I think we find ourselves deteriorating to a level of immorality that will lead this nation to a high level of judgment,” Williams testified.
Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, maintained churches will be “dragged into a court” until judges have “delineated every line possible” on religious freedom and public accommodation. Proponents said current laws on human rights and religious freedom would prevent a major flurry of lawsuits from being filed.
The same Senate panel approved similar legislation during the lame-duck legislative session in early January. But that plan stalled when backers acknowledged absences of three key votes kept them below the minimum 30-vote threshold needed to pass the Senate.
A central question before the committee then was how institutions receiving public funding would be required to receive same-sex marriage ceremonies. But that language has been dropped from the bill this time, Steans said.
“We didn’t do anything with public funding in this bill,” she said. “There have been concerns about that in the original language. That language is all removed. We’re not touching that.”
Tuesday’s debate focused on whether churches are defined as public accommodations under the state’s Human Rights Act, which says the availability of public accommodations shall not be determined on the basis of sexual orientation.
Though the word “church” does not appear under that section of the law, one definition of a “public accommodation” comes close, describing “an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall or other place of public gathering.”
Some of the bill’s opponents say a lack of clarity in this area could cause trouble in the courts. Joseph La Rue, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, testified before the committee that the bill doesn’t clearly exempt churches from renting out their facilities such as in other states like New York.
* Daily Herald…
Murphy said the law could prompt a wave of lawsuits to figure out which facilities could be used.
Harmon said, though, that there haven’t been similar lawsuits over civil unions in Illinois.
“The civil unions law did not create a race to the courthouse,” Harmon said.