Facebook, the future for legislators?
Friday, Mar 28, 2008
* More and more public officials are realizing the value of the social networking site Facebook. Many have used the site to help spread awareness about their campaigns. I remember seeing the “One Million Strong for Barack Obama” group when I was in school. Now candidates of all levels of office are joining in.
However, some are also beginning to notice its potential for advancing their legislative agenda:
* Soon after, Rep. Greg Harris contacted the administrator to ask about his group.
“I had no idea there was this much grassroots organizing going on,” said Harris, the rep. who is sponsoring the civil union legislation.
Harris said he is still working with the group to see what type of awareness he can raise through the Web site. For now, he has posted a message on the group page asking members to continue lobbying for the cause and offering his office contact information.
The bill would grant the same legal rights to same-sex couples as it would a married couple, such as hospital visitation, health care choices and funeral options. However, no church or other religious institution would be forced to sanction the union:
* Currently Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire all allow civil unions and Massachusetts will grant marriage licenses to same sex couples.
Voters in Missouri overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as “only between a man and a woman.” Since then, there have been no major efforts by state legislators to legalize civil unions in the state.
Harris said he is unsure of when the civil union bill could get called to a vote before the entire Illinois House. It narrowly passed a House committee last March and then was amended to remove all references to marriage in hopes of attracting further support.
* Sites like Facebook and MySpace, once seen as teeny bopping pastimes, could become an integral part of the future of politics. Discuss.