According to an article from the Chicago Tribune , more than 250 clergy members in Illinois are backing a state effort to pass a gay marriage bill, which is slated for an official vote early next month. Pastors, rabbis, and other religious leaders from numerous different Christian and Jewish denominations, many in Chicago and the surrounding areas, showed their support by joining together to sign a letter and present it to the Illinois General Assembly.
Here are some facts and details about this key endorsement of the state's proposed Religious Freedom Protection and Marriage Fairness Act and the act itself:
* The proposed bill is being sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, and is set to be voted on before new members are sworn into the Illinois General Assembly next month.
* Both Steans and Harris played important roles in bringing civil unions to Illinois less than two years ago, added the Associated Press .
* The New York Times reported that the signed declaration from the religious leaders specifically states, "We dedicate our lives to fostering faith and compassion, and we work daily to promote justice and fairness for all. Standing on these beliefs, we think that it is morally just to grant equal opportunities and responsibilities to loving, committed same-sex couples."
* Rev. Kevin E. Tindell, a religious leader at New Dimensions Chicago and an openly gay man, expressed his support for the bill by saying, "It's not a religious right -- it's a civil right."
* Other signees include Roger Dart of the Congregational Church in Deerfield, Rev. Kim L. Beckmann of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Lois McCullen Parr of the Broadway United Methodist Church, noted the Chicago Sun-Times .
* However, even in light of 260 clergy members backing the bill, there are still several opponents, including the Illinois Family Institute.
* Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute criticized the letter by saying that the letter "is signed quite obviously by faith leaders who have adopted radical, ahistorical, heretical theological views."
* If passed into law, Illinois would allow same-sex couples to marry. The state would also recognize civil unions and sex-sex marriages in other states.
* Same-sex couples that have already entered into a civil union in the state could apply for a marriage license.
* Steans said that getting the bill passed in the Senate was a strong possibility since it needs 30 votes to pass. She also hopes that the clergy's signed declaration would help persuade undecided lawmakers in both the senate and the house of representatives.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
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