The battle for marriage equality seems to be picking up steam. In addition to the federal appeals court striking down Prop. 8 and the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in the Washington legislature this week, three openly-gay Illinois state representatives have introduced a marriage equality bill. The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, would give same-sex couples the same marriage rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.
Same-sex civil unions were legalized in Illinois in January 2011. According to Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois:
“Civil unions were an important intermediate step for the state, however, the civil union law has already proven to have substantial weaknesses and falls short of full marriage equality for all loving and committed couples in Illinois.
“In following experiences of thousands of couples in civil unions over the past year, we confirmed what we always suspected to be true: that creating a separate institution to provide substantially the same rights did not add up to full equality under the law. A pharmacist who denied prescription pick-up to the patient’s civil union partner didn’t think it’s the same thing as marriage. A coroner who refused to issue a death certificate to civil union partner survivor did not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Tax preparers, estate planners, employers and employees do not think that civil unions are the same as marriage. Separate is not equal. And we at Equality Illinois will not rest until gay and lesbian couples in every corner of the state - who are equal in love – are also equal in marriage.”