illinois

Let’s Do This Already; I’m Getting Exhausted

 Have you seen Abraham Lincoln/Illinois Outline/Marriage Equality pictures on Facebook recently? That’s because the Illinois General Assembly holds its first “veto session” next week: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday (Oct. 22-24).

That means we have yet another chance to finally allow same-sex couples to marry. You’ll likely be hearing a lot about this in the next few days. Here is a quick primer:

1) To pass in its current form, the bill needs 71 votes in the House. That is a high hurdle, because we could not even get 60 votes last May. However, the bill can be amended to change the start date (for next June) at which point it would only need 60 votes. We are VERY close to having those 60 votes.

Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.

Rep. Kate Cloonen is about to cast a vote on behalf of Kankakee County against equal rights.

2) A few representatives are still undecided. The single most important thing you can do right now is send a personalized email/message/call to your representative. GO HERE to send a message or LOOK AT THIS POST for contact information.

*A special note for those in Kankakee, Bradley, and Bourbonnais. Democrat Kate Cloonen met with the local equal rights organization this Wednesday at Family House Restaurant (my favorite breakfast spot on the planet, so I took this personal). At the meeting she said that she does not believe gay people in Illinois should be able to marry. Please take a moment now to kindly ask her to re-consider. Voting to keep people unequal (in the Land of Lincoln, of all places) should be embarrassing.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/staterepresentativekate.cloonen
Email: staterepcloonen79@att.net

3) If you end up in polite discussion with opponents of equality this week (I hope so), here’s a quick Argument Cheat Sheet

  • Claim A: I do not support this, because I believe it attacks religious liberty. Christians should not be sued because they do not want to participate in these ceremonies.

–Religious liberty is important. That is why the bill does not force any church to perform services against their wishes. Also, the bill makes ZERO changes to discrimination laws in the state. A completely separate law governs non-discrimination rules in Illinois. In other words, passing this bill will not in any way impact the rights or obligations of any religious person or entity.

  • Claim B: I do not support this, because I believe all children deserve a mother and a father. 

–Great. But permitting a loving couple to get married in no way impacts the parentage of children.  Please do not use children as an excuse to perpetuate inequality.

  • Claim C: I do not support this, because gay couples already have civil unions; they just care about the word marriage. 

–Actually, gay couples in Illinois who have a civil union DO NOT receive federal marriage benefits (i.e. Social Security rights, estate tax breaks, +1,000 others). That is because the federal government does not recognize civil unions, but they do recognize marriage.

Popes, Wives, & Democrats…Oh My

How can they possibly hold an Olympics in a city this beautiful?

How can they possibly hold an Olympics in a city this beautiful?

Just like Rio de Janiero stole our 2016 Summer Olympics, it looks like another South American country (damn Argentina!) has swiped our chance at the first American Pope.  This week the archbishop (“really big bishop”) of Buenos Aires was magically transformed into Pope Francis I (do we even use I or do the numbers start at II?).  Catholic friends whose judgment I trust are reportedly happy about this development as Francis will be the first Latin American vicar of Christ–and a Jesuit to boot!  Most of my Catholic friends are Jesuits, so obviously their opinion is biased.

Confession: I attended a Jesuit law school.  I even took a small law school class led by a Jesuit priest with whom I had a private lunch at Ralph Lauren.  He paid.  Long story short, my opinion on the matter is also suspect.  I wouldn’t blame you if you stop reading now because this blog post was being written at the command of my Jesuit masters.  I’m easily bought.

I digress.  Being a one-dimensional person, upon hearing the glorious news of the Pope’s naming (how we survived a few days without a Pope still baffles),  I immediately Googled to get his opinion on gay rights.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s like Googling to find out which of the Dixie Chicks is the talented one.  The answer is obvious: all of them.  Why bother Googling Pope candidates on gay rights.  They are all against it.  That’s what you were thinking, wasn’t it?  And you’d be right.  But I didn’t know that at the time, so cut me some slack.

After a Google search that returned 250,000,000 items and took .13 seconds I learned from the Huffington Post:

In 2010 Bergoglio said about a gay marriage bill in Argentina that “At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

He went on to describe it as a “‘move of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” In John 8:44, the Father of Lies is the devil.

Crap.

Which Cardinal took this photo while on the balcony?

Which Cardinal took this photo while on the balcony?

I wasn’t expecting an archbishop who has “Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal” on his (“her” is not a pronoun that could ever apply here) resume.  But I was at least hoping for a guy who was a little more subdued on the sexual issues.  Dreams shattered.

Normally I could pick up the pieces after this disappointment by remembering: “I’m not Catholic, so what the hell do I care what their leader says?”

But I couldn’t shake it off this time.  Why?  Because I read news like this on the same day that Bergoglio became Francis:

[In a discussion about the prospects for the gay marriage bill in the Illinois House]…One House Democrat I talked with last week wants to vote for gay marriage, but his strongly Catholic wife is absolutely, completely dead set against it.

Read that sentence again and then take a moment to bang your head against the nearest solid object four or five times (whatever number seems appropriate to you).  What should I discuss: why it is idiotic for a legislator to vote to deny equal rights because his wife says so OR why it is idiotic for a legislator to vote to deny equal rights because one particular Church doctrine thinks those people are influenced by the devil?  I don’t have time to discuss both. I’ll just go with the church one, because this whole post is mostly about Popes.

Image selected entirely because of the high tech microphone.

Image selected entirely because of the high tech microphone.

Believe it or not this anonymous Democratic legislator’s wife is not the only Catholic working to ensure gay couples are never allowed to marry.  For example, Chicago’s own archbishop, Cardinal Francis George (totally different Francis) penned a letter which said:

[Allowing gay marriage would  force people to] “pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.”

Sheesh Cardinal Francis George, tell me how you really feel.  I don’t recall every saying a bad word about you…at least before this post.  You’ll be happy to know that after reading your thoughtful letter I sat down and seriously contemplated whether the most important, intimate relationship of my life was indeed “contrary to the common sense of the human race.”  And while I cannot speak for the rest of the human race, for my own sake I concluded that you were full of shit.

Making matters worse (I’m no longer writing as if I’m talking to the Cardinal), this letter was required to be read in virtually all Catholic churches in Illinois.  Besides talking about the human race, it called on parishioners–everyday Catholics; good folks–to call their legislators to ensure that state law only allows people to get married if the Catholic church deems them worthy (divorced people?).

This author had to include Britney Spears to make photos for the cover.  Slim pickens.

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. Britney Spears is on the cover of this book.

So where are we now?

Awaiting a final vote in the Illinois House which would end one more vestige of enshrined legal discrimination.  But depending on who you talk to we are either one or five or ten or twelve votes behind.  Everyone agrees that it’s a bit shaky.

Keep in mind, this is in a chamber made up of 71 Democrats when only 60 votes are needed for passage.  Even if we assume that not a single Republican will do the right thing (*sigh*), that still means that one to two dozen Illinois Democrats are prepared to permanently put their names in the history books with a vote for discrimination. (In a few decades I’m sure they will have good excuses worked up for why they had no backbone when it counted most).

What on earth are they thinking?  My guess: they are scared of angry church letters.  And wives.  It’s mostly the wives fault.  Which is why I have taken a vow to never marry a woman.

Cheers-

Paul

P.S. In all seriousness, I do wish Pope Francis the best.  May he use the position he’s been given to heal more people on the planet than he harms.

P.P.S.  Statistics actually show that wives generally support marriage equality at far higher rates than husbands.

Let’s Win This

gay couple 2

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts transform the world.”

My dear family & friends-

I spent the first twenty years of my life berating myself over whether I should keep quiet about my sexual orientation.  What would people think?  Would I be ridiculed?  Who would joke about me when I wasn’t around?  Who would be disappointed?  Would my life be worse?

Guess what happened?  A lot changed.  And I’ve never been happier.

The people that matter most in my life didn’t just support me: You became my biggest defenders.  There is nothing so sweet as having others standing at your side, ready to challenge those trying to bring you down or treat you unfairly.  Every day I am humbled by those who stand up for love, fairness, and equality–even when it isn’t popular.  I know you don’t have to do it.  But you do.   And it means the world to me.

No good deed goes unpunished.  If you have any gas left in the tank, I would be so grateful if you could take one last step to finally end this battle in Illinois and ensure our state treats everyone the same, including people like me.  As you might have heard, in early January legislators in Springfield will vote on a bill that would allow same sex couples to solidify their loving relationship by way of a marriage. gay couple 3

The chief sponsor of the bill explains: “It’s very straightforward.  We treat all couples with the same respect and dignity in the eyes of the law and we protect the rights of religious institutions to either consecrate or not consecrate marriages within their faith as they see fit. It’s very important that government not involve itself in religion on either side of the issue.”

Here’s the reality: Right now, internal counts of those legislators show that we may not have the votes.  It is very close, but some representatives are unsure.  They will make up their mind based on how their constituents voice their opinion.

That is why I am urging you to take 5 minutes to draft a very simple email and send it to your State Representative and State Senator, asking them to treat all Illinois residents fairly by supporting marriage equality.

It does not have to be long or time-consuming.  But by typing out a few sentences and hitting the send button, you may be the tipping point.  All you need to include is this:

kyle&paul

1) Share you name, that you are a voter in Illinois, and indicate where you live.  It makes a big difference if the lawmaker knows that you are a constituent in their own district.  Say if there are multiple voters in your household (or, better yet, have each one send an email).

2) Urge them to vote in favor of marriage equality.  You can say this in one sentence or fifty.

That’s it.  More than at any other time, that simple act can make a real difference.  This is not like casting a vote for President when you know what the outcome will be in Illinois.  It is VERY close, and every single email counts tremendously. Lesbian couple

It would be great if you could do this right now…as you are reading this.  Because if you don’t do it now, you might forget.  Life is hectic.  Below you will find a list of legislators and email addresses.

Please send a message now explaining where you stand.

Forever grateful-

Paul

——————————————————————————————————

Not sure who your legislators are?  Go to this site, type in your address, and get their names, then come back here to get their email from the list below….

1) Step #1: FIND YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS: HERE (Remember to look for your STATE Representative and STATE Senator)

2) Step #2: Find their names below (alphabetical) and send them a quick email.  You should send one to your State Rep. AND one to your State Senator.  If two email addresses are listed for that person, send them to both addresses.

NAME                          EMAIL #1                                            EMAIL #2

Edward J. Acevedo eacevedoed@ilga.gov Sylvia_idrovo@sbcglobal.net
Pamela Althoff pamela@pamelaalthoff.net palthoff@mc.net
Luis Arroyo RepDistrict3@gmail.com
Jason Barickman  jason@jasonbarickman.org
Mark H. Beaubien, Jr. strepmbeaubien@sbcglobal.net
Daniel V. Beiser dvbeiser@sbcglobal.net
Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock rep@pbellock.com
Maria Antonia (Toni) Berrios repberrios39@gmail.com rep_berrios@yahoo.com
Daniel K. Biss repbiss@gmail.com
Tim Bivins senatorbivins@grics.net
Larry K. Bomke senatorbomke@yahoo.com
Mike Bost rep.bost@hotmail.com mikebost@midwestmail.com
John E. Bradley repjohnbradley@mychoice.net
Bill Brady billbrady@senatorbillbrady.com
Dan Brady dan@rep-danbrady.com
Rich Brauer Brauerr@housegopmail.state.il.us
Adam M. Brown abrown@decaturil.gov
Daniel J. Burke burkedj2@ilga.gov illhouse@aol.com
Kelly M. Burke kelly@kellyburke2010.com
William D. ‘Will” Burns repwillburns@att.net
J. Bradley Burzynski senatorbrad@frontier.com senatorbrad@verizon.net
John Cavaletto john@johncavaletto.com
Linda Chapa-LaVia chapa-laviali@ilga.gov lindachapalavia@aol.com
James F. Clayborne, Jr. jfc87@norcom2000.com
Franco Coladipietro franco@il45.com
Sandy Cole representativesandycole@comcast.net
Jacqueline “Jacqui” Y. Collins jcollins@senatedem.ilga.gov
Annazette R. Collins collinsar@ilga.gov annazettec@sbcglobal.net
Marlow H. Colvin repcolvin@sbcglobal.net
Michael G. Connelly Repconnelly48@gmail.com
Fred Crespo fred@fredcrespo.com
Tom Cross tom@tomcross.com
M. Maggie Crotty jdowis@senatedem.ilga.gov
John J. Cullerton john@senatorcullerton.com
Shane Cultra Shanecultra105@yahoo.com
Bill Cunningham  staterepbillcunningham@gmail.com
Barbara Flynn Currie repcurrie@sbcglobal.net bfc15@aol.com
John D’Amico johnd@ilga.gov
Monique D. Davis davismd@ilga.gov Mdavis2147@yahoo.com
William “Will” Davis williamd@ilga.gov repwilldavis@sbcglobal.net
Anthony DeLuca repdeluca@sbcglobal.net
William Delgado repdelgado@aol.com
Kirk W. Dillard senator@kdillard.com
Dan Duffy Dan@SenatorDuffy.com
Lisa M. Dugan lisadugan@sbcglobal.net
Kenneth Dunkin kendunkin@msn.com
Jim Durkin jimd@ilga.gov kanadyF@housegopmail.state.il.us
Roger L. Eddy roger@peopleforeddy.com Reddyunit1@aol.com
Keith Farnham krfarnham@gmail.com
Sara Feigenholtz sara@staterepsara.com staterep12@aol.com
Mary E. Flowers flowersme@ilga.gov mflowers@hds.ilga.gov
Gary Forby senatorforby@yahoo.com
LaShawn Ford lkf@ilga.gov repford@lashawnford.com
Mike Fortner Mike.fortner@sbcglobal.net
Jack D. Franks jack@jackfranks.org
Michael W. Frerichs mfrerichs@senatedem.ilga.gov
Robyn Gabel robyn@robyngabel.com
Susan Garrett ilsenate29@sbcglobal.net
Esther Golar esthergolar@sbcglobal.net
Careen Gordon staterepgordon@sbcglobal.net
Jehan Gordon repjehangordon@gmail.com
William R. “Bill” Haine whaine@cbnstl.com
Norine K. Hammond  rephammond@macomb.com
Don Harmon dharmon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Greg Harris greg@gregharris.org
David Harris harrisforstaterep@yahoo.com
Kay Hatcher info@kayhatcher.us vote4kay@att.net
Chad D Hays  chad@chaddhays.com
Rickey R. Hendon hendon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elizabeth Hernandez repehernandez@yahoo.com hernandezl@ilga.gov
Thomas “Tom” Holbrook holbrookta@ilga.gov Thomas.holbrook@att.net
Linda Holmes senatorholmes42@sbcglobal.net
Constance A.”Connie” Howard howardca@ilga.gov staterep-constance-a-howard@comcast.net
Mattie Hunter senatorhunter03@sbcglobal.net
Toi W Hutchinson thutchinson@senatedem.ilga.gov
Eddie Lee Jackson Sr. bbsty2010@gmail.com
Mike Jacobs senatorjacobs@sbcglobal.net
Naomi D. Jakobsson naomi@naomijakobsson.com
Charles E. “Chuck” Jefferson staterepchuck67@aol.com
Thomas Johnson SenatorTomJohnson@gmail.com 
Emil Jones, III ejones3@senatedem.ilga.gov
John O Jones johnojones@sbcglobal.net
Thaddeus Jones tjones@calumetcity.org
Dwight Kay info@dwightkay.com
David Koehler senatorkoehler@grics.net
Renee Kosel rkosel@ilga.gov
Dan Kotowski dan@senatorkotowski.com
Louis I. Lang langli@ilga.gov reploulang@aol.com
Chris Lauzen admin@lauzen.com
David R. Leitch davidleitch@ameritech.net
Kimberly A. Lightford statesenatorlightford@comcast.net
Camille Lilly statereplilly@yahoo.com
Terry Link senator@link30.org
David Luechtefeld sendavel@midwest.net
Joseph M. Lyons lyonsjm@ilga.gov jsmith@hds.ilga.gov
Michael J. Madigan mmadigan@hds.ilga.gov
Edward D. Maloney ed@edmaloney.com
Iris Y. Martinez ilsenate20@sbcglobal.net
Sidney H. Mathias repmathias@hotmail.com SIDNEYMATH@msn.com
Frank J. Mautino patti76th@ivnet.com
Karen May karen@repkarenmay.org karenmay58@aol.com
Rita Mayfield ritamayfield60@gmail.com
Emily McAsey RepEmily@gmail.com
Michael P. McAuliffe mmcauliffe20@yahoo.com
William “Sam” McCann SenatorSam@frontier.com 
Kyle McCarter mccarter51@att.net senatormccarter51@att.net
Kevin A. McCarthy kevmac37@sbcglobal.net
Jack McGuire jmcguire86@sbcglobal.net Jmcguire86@sbcglobal.com
James T. Meeks senmeeks@sbcglobal.net
Deborah L. Mell deb@debmell.org dmel@hds.ilga.gov
Susana Mendoza staterepmendoza@gmail.com
John Millner johnjmillner@aol.com
Jerry L. Mitchell repjmitchell@comcast.net
Bill Mitchell repmitchell@earthlink.net
Thomas R. “Tom” Morrison  Repmorrison54@gmail.com
Richard Morthland rich@richmorthland.com
Rosemary Mulligan repmulligan@usa.net
John G. Mulroe info@mulroeforsenate.com
Matt Murphy senatormattmurphy@gmail.com
Michelle Mussman michelle@votemichelle.org
Antonio “Tony” Mu√±oz amunoz@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elaine Nekritz enekritz@repnekritz.org
Michael Noland richj@noland.org
Chris Nybo chris@chrisnybo.com
Jo Ann Osmond reposmond@aol.com osmondjoann@aol.com
Harry Osterman hjo17@aol.com
Carole Pankau carole@pankau.org
Brandon W. Phelps bphelps@yourclearwave.com
Sandra M. Pihos sandrapihos42@gmail.com community@sandrapihos.com
Raymond Poe poe@ilga.gov poer@housegopmail.state.il.us
Robert Pritchard bob@pritchardstaterep.com
Christine Radogno cradogno@sbcglobal.net
Harry R. Ramey,Jr. staterepramey55@aol.com
Kwame Raoul raoulstaff@gmail.com
Dennis Reboletti dennisreboletti@sbcglobal.net dennisreboletti@aol.com
David B. Reis david@davidreis.org
Dan Reitz repreitz@egyptian.net
Sue Rezin suerezin@gmail.com
Dale A. Righter drighter@consolidated.net
Al Riley rep.riley38@sbcglobal.net rep.riley@sbcglobal.net
Dale E. Risinger senatorrisinger@yahoo.com
Robert “Bob” Rita robertbobrita@aol.com
Chapin Rose ls@chapinrose.net chapin@chapinrose.com
Wayne Arthur Rosenthal  waynerosenthal@consolidated.net
Pam Roth moffitt@grics.net
Jim Sacia JimSacia@aeroinc.net
Ronald L. Sandack rsandack@downers.us
Martin A. Sandoval msandoval@senatedem.ilga.gov
Angelo “Skip” Saviano skip@skipsaviano.com
Suzi Schmidt suzi@suzischmidt.com
Timothy L. Schmitz info@timschmitz.org ilrep49@sbcglobal.net
Jeffrey M. Schoenberg senator@jschoenberg.org
Darlene J. Senger sengerstaterep@gmail.com
Carol Sente repsente@gmail.com
Ira I. Silverstein isilverstein@senatedem.ilga.gov
Keith P. Sommer sommer@mtco.com
Joe Sosnowski joesosnowski@gmail.com Joe.Sosnowski@rockfordil.gov
Cynthia Soto csoto@ilga.gov maria.zarate08@gmail.com
Heather Steans hsteans@senatedem.ilga.gov
Ron Stephens ron@repstephens.com
John M. Sullivan senjohn@adams.net
Ed Sullivan, Jr. ILhouse51@sbcglobal.net
Dave Syverson info@senatordavesyverson.com
Andre Thapedi rep32district@gmail.com thapedi@sbcglobal.net
Jil Tracy jiltracy@jiltracy.com
Donne E. Trotter senatortrotter@yahoo.com
Michael W. Tryon Mike@miketryon.com
Arthur L. Turner turneral@ilga.gov inezc@reparthurturner.com
Michael D. Unes  repunes@gmail.com
Patrick Verschoore pverschoore@qconline.com
Louis S. Viverito lviverito@senatedem.ilga.gov
Jim Watson jimwatson@localnetco.com
Arthur J. ( A.J.) Wilhelmi senatorajwilhelmi@sbcglobal.net
Ann M. Williams ann@repanwilliams.com
Dave Winters repwinters@aol.com
Karen A. Yarbrough kyarbrough@ilga.gov karenyarbrough@ameritech.net
Michael Zalewski michaelz@ilga.gov

IL Civil Unions Update

***Update: As expected, the bill passed the committee and will reach the House floor.***

***Update x 2: The bill passed 4-3 along party lines.  Sigh.  GOP, preventing this is not conservative policy.***

 

Correction: I discussed the marriage bill filed by Rep. Harris a few weeks ago and wondered what had happened to the civil unions scheme.  The answer to my own question was: Nothing happened to the civil union bill.  Both were filed.  Makes sense.

Now:  In fact, today the Youth & Family Committee is debating the civil unions bill which has been so close to passing in the past.  You may remember this committee as the one that the ‘Pro-Family’ advocates lambasted because a gay man was chosen to head the committee.  Keep an ear open to discover how it turns out.

Also, the LDS Church in Illinois isn’t missing a beat, reminding us that if the bill passes, the world will indeed turn into Ron Jeremy’s dreamland…

This will empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise. It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores