Lest anyone is tempted to think all is well politically in America, look no further than Illinois. In a shameless rushed lame-duck maneuver, the Illinois legislature rammed through a new law approving so called “civil unions” yesterday. Even worse, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Catholic, helped strong arm legislators into passing the bill, and now intends to sign it.
Newly installed Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki fired back at Gov. Quinn after he argued that his faith was a principal motivation for backing the legislative effort:
“If the governor wishes to pursue a secular agenda for political purposes, that is his prerogative for which he is accountable to the voters. But if he wishes to speak as a Catholic, then he is accountable to Catholic authority, and the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law,” Paprocki said.
Predictably, Quinn dodged the substance of Bishop Paprocki’s critique:
“I follow my conscience. I think everyone should do that. I think that’s the most important thing to do in life, and my conscience is not kicking me in the shins today,” the governor told reporters.
Peter Breen of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society was on the ground in Springfield battling the anti-marriage guns. The exasperation in an e-mail message from him today was palpable:
I can’t begin to describe to you how differently the other side views the world we live in, how the other side understands the words “justice,” “faith,” and “love.”
The folks on the other side continuously invoked God and faith as their true justification for passage of this bill, one of their representatives even calling for her fellow members to “vote with the angels.” The Governor himself, a practicing Catholic, asserted in the local newspaper that, “My religious faith animates me to support this bill.”
Illinois’ actions this week reportedly came in response to heavy funding from homosexual marriage advocates who helped soften the impact of the November elections by dumping needed cash into multiple state races last month.
Political payoffs are standard business here in Chicago and Illinois. But some argue, and I think persuasively, that Illinois isn’t your typical east or west coast ‘blue state.’ Republicans win races for high offices, and Midwest “family values” haven’t been entirely destroyed. In fact, most of the state, outside of Chicago, is strongly pro-life and pro-marriage. But alas, despite the fact that the state is practically bankrupt, enough legislators believed their time was best spent redefining marriage.
On a brighter note, the controversy did force the issue to the fore among those vying for the Chicago mayoral election next year. While Rahm Emanuael reportedly made several calls to legislators in support of the law, Democratic candidate and State Senator Rev. James Meeks didn’t mince words:
“I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This bill is a marriage bill,” Meeks said.
Asked if he thought his vote would damage his standing among gay and lesbian voters and others who favor civil unions, Meeks said, “I don’t know. But I believe in the sanctity of marriage. Perhaps it will help among everybody who believes in the sanctity of marriage.”