Friday, March 15, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage in Illinois: Now Is the time!

by Geoffrey R. Stone

Huffington Post

March 15, 2013

The Illinois Senate has approved legislation that will legalize marriage between same-sex couples in Illinois. The Illinois House Executive Committee has recommended passage of the legislation. Governor Quinn has said that he supports that legislation and will enthusiastically sign it into law. All that remains now is for the Illinois House to approve the legislation to make Illinois the tenth state in the nation to legalize marriage between same-sex couples.

Now is the time for Illinois to take this step. It is demanded by our nation's commitment to fairness, justice and equality. Now is the time for us all to leave behind a long and sorrowful history of hateful discrimination, fear, hostility and ignorance. Now is the time for us to live up to our own highest aspirations as Americans.

There was a time, not that long ago, when gays and lesbians in our state and in our nation were ostracized, humiliated, scorned, fired, castrated, sterilized, and jailed. They were treated as morally corrupt, mentally degenerate and genetically deformed. The only way to survive in that environment was to hide one's own identity, to pretend to be what one was not, and to find shelter deep in the closet.

Inspired by the civil rights movement, some homosexuals found the courage to claim their own identities publicly and to assert their rights to dignity, respect and equality. This met with violent reprisals, unemployment, and gross discrimination. But they persevered and set an example for others. And so we came gradually to know, initially to our shock, that our friends and neighbors, our cousins and uncles, our sons and daughters -- people we'd loved and respected -- were themselves gays and lesbians. It took extraordinary courage for them to come out and to tell us the truth, because the truth was and too often still is colored by shame and dismay.