Illinois Senate Republicans and civil unions

Back in January 2005 the Democrats in the General Assembly, with important help from a few Republicans, passed SB3186, which added “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Now in addition to religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental handicap, military status, or unfavorable discharge from military service, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on how they like to have sex.

And since there are dozens of “sexual orientations,” an employer might very well have to hire a lot of lawyers to defend himself should he decide to fire someone expressing their gender identity mental illness through cross-dressing.

By adding “sexual orientation” to the Illinois Human Rights Act, it is now against the law for rational people to raise religious or moral objections to many behaviors that are objectionable. Instead of attempting to force tolerance of aberrant behavior, a better idea would have been for the General Assembly to serve the cause of tolerance by passing a resolution encouraging a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in polite society. In other words, people should keep their private sexual “issues” private.

Much has been written and said on this topic and of course the debate is really just beginning. The proponents of the extreme left wing “gay” agenda have frankly turned sexual impulses into a religion, and they seek to get the power of the state everywhere to serve and protect what can be summed up as “orgasm rights.”

That is not the subject of this column, however, as my focus here is instead on those veteran socially conservative members of the Illinois senate who face yet another opportunity to change their ways.

Back in 2005 three socially liberal Republicans, Pamela Althoff, Christine Radogno, and Dan Rutherford, joined the Democrats in voting for the bill during the last days of the 2003-2004 session which ran a little into ‘05. Part of the story that’s told involves how traditional values lobbyists were outsmarted and the above mentioned conservative stalwarts were fooled by the procedural maneuverings to call the bill for a vote at the last hour.

After the bill passed I called one of those stalwarts on the phone to ask how in the world such a bill could pass in light of the many decades worth of combined experience he and his fellow conservatives had going for them. Surely they should have been able to put their experience to use to stave off such ridiculous legislation.

With the prospects of history repeating itself later this year (or in early 2009) with a civil unions bill passing, I shot off a note (see below) to that very same legislator I had phoned three and a half years ago.

The white flag of fear and failure has been flying over the Republicans in the Illinois senate for the past several years. Theories as to the reason why this is the case involve talk of too many skeletons in closets, too many years of ingraining the habit of timidity, and too much pride preventing the caucus from changing leadership or direction. Better to crash and burn than admit you don’t know what you’re doing.

There’s a line in an old war movie that applies here. In one scene a group of infantry runs into some heavy guns and calls for serious heavy armor reinforcement. One character points out the obvious – it’s tough to defeat tanks with rifles and machine guns.

To be clear, a state senate caucus should be made up of big guns – heavy artillery – tanks. Independent and underfunded groups advocating for the defense of marriage at best wield rifles and machine guns. Unfortunately our political “tanks” ride without ammunition and “Surrender!” is their whimpering motto.

History need not repeat itself at the end of this current General Assembly when it comes to civil unions. Below is an excerpt (with emphasis added) from the aforementioned note sent to a current member of the state senate. No response is needed, but action is. If a civil union bill passes and those elected Republicans remained silent or decided to pursue the same course of action they did before, their excuses will sound even dumber this time around.

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July 2, 2008


Rather than waiting to call you again after the civil union law passes following this November’s election (through some sneaky procedural maneuver no doubt and with Republican votes for sure), I thought I’d make a suggestion.

Your caucus should [consult outside experts on the issue] so all the senate and house Republicans can learn why civil unions need to be opposed. Then you should all do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t pass. Just because you’re in a veto-proofed minority doesn’t mean the public can’t hear you.

FYI, there are a lot of groups out here just waiting to lend a hand to some serious and credible activity on the part of our elected Republicans…

If our leaders don’t start changing, we’re going to get the Barack Obama style change. Not much of a legacy, that.

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