The Catholic Conference of Illinois today decried Illinois Senate approval of redefinition of marriage legislation, saying lawmakers are blatantly ignoring the institution’s key role in the foundation of society.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 10 on a 34-21 vote, with two voting "present." (See the roll call vote here.) The measure changes the current definition of marriage set in state law from “between a man and a woman” to “between 2 persons.”
Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, said Senate Bill 10 tosses aside the natural order of marriage as the complementary union of one man and one woman as the foundation for the family.
“Marriage joins a man and a woman in love to meet one another’s needs, to procreate and to raise children. This is the lifeblood of any human society,” Gilligan said in a press release. “This legislation tears at that definition with unknown consequences.”
Gilligan criticized the limited nature of religious freedom protections found in the legislation, noting the extremely limited conscience protections for religious organizations and the total lack of any such protections for individuals.
“We remain wary of government interference in the church’s ministry and structure,” Gilligan said. “We heard promises two years ago when civil unions were passed, and now Catholic Charities has been kicked out of its mission of serving children in foster care.”
Proponents of civil unions legislation two years ago promised during Senate floor debate that the social service mission of churches and faith-based organizations would not be affected. Within six months of civil unions becoming law, Catholic Charities in Illinois was barred from contracting with the state for foster care and adoption services for abandoned, neglected and abused children because of its religious beliefs.
Gilligan called upon House lawmakers to reject the measure.
“This legislation callously redefines a bedrock institution of our society and deteriorates the free exercise of religion in our state,” he said.
You can watch video of the debate here. Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, criticizes the Catholic Church at the 36-minute mark.
The Illinois House today passed Senate Bill 957, paving the way for undocumented immigrants to apply for Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses.
House lawmakers approved the measure on a 65-46 vote. (Read the roll call here.) The Senate previously passed the legislation, which will now go to Gov. Pat Quinn for consideration. Quinn, however, has said he will sign the bill into law.
The Catholic Conference of Illinois praised final passage of SB 957. CCI Executive Director Robert Gilligan noted in a press release the legislation would provide an important safeguard for immigrant families. Many families are torn apart when unlicensed, undocumented drivers are stopped for a minor traffic violation. With no driver's license to show police, they are often sent to deportation centers.
“Too many of our immigrant families have been torn apart by the simple act of driving,” Gilligan said.
Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses (TVDL) are currently issued to individuals with legal immigration status but no Social Security Number. TVDLs can only be used for driving, and not for identification purposes. Immigrants would not be able to use a TVDL to buy a firearm, board an airplane or cast a vote in an election.
In order to get a TVDL, immigrants would have to provide proof of at least one year of Illinois residency. They would have to pay a fee, and pass vision, written and driving tests, in addition to purchasing auto insurance. The TVDL would be good for only three years.
“This legislation will give our immigrant brothers and sisters the training to safely get to church, work and school,” Gilligan said. “All families are safer when every driver is trained, tested, licensed and insured.”
Final passage of the legislation comes at an appropriate time: Jan. 6-12, 2013 is National Migration Week, celebrated by the Catholic Church to welcome newcomers and to push for comprehensive and compassionate federal immigration reform.
Pastoral leaders representing more than 1,700 faith communities in Illinois – parishes, congregations, churches and Friday prayer locations and Masjids – have signed a letter sent to Illinois lawmakers, urging them to safeguard both marriage and religious freedom by rejecting any legislative efforts to redefine marriage
The faith leaders note that traditional marriage “is the natural order embracing the complementary physical, emotional and spiritual design of men and women.”
They also warn that simply not being forced to preside over same-sex marriages does nothing to protect religious freedom as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The proposed legislation falls far short of protecting the rights of churches and individuals to freely exercise their religious beliefs and abide their consciences, they note.
“If marriage is redefined in civil law, individuals and religious organizations – regardless of deeply held beliefs – will be compelled to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of marriage in their lives, ministries and operations,” they write.
State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, and state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, have announced they would seek passage of legislation during this month’s lame-duck session that changes the definition of marriage currently set in state law from "between a man and a woman" to "between 2 persons."
The signees of the letter represent a diversity of faiths, including the Anglican Church in North America, the Catholic Church, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, as well as individual Baptist and Evangelical churches.
The Illinois Senate today approved expanding Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Catholic Conference of Illinois Executive Director Robert Gilligan applauded the Senate's actions, noting that many families are separated when unlicensed, immigrant drivers are stopped for a minor traffic violation, and then deported because of their status.
“Too many of our immigrant families have been torn apart by the simple act of driving,” Gilligan said in a press release. “What hurts one family hurts our entire community, for the family is the building block of society.”
Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 957 on a 41-14 vote, with one lawmaker voting "present." See the roll call here. The legislation now moves to the House for consideration. UPDATE: The House adjourned without taking up SB 957, but may vote on the legislation when it returns to session on Jan. 3, 2013.
Temporary Visitor Driver's Licenses are currently issued to individuals with legal immigration status but no Social Security Number. TVDLs can only be used for driving, and not for identification.
Immigrants would have to pay a fee, and pass vision, written and road tests to get a TVDL. They also would have to provide proof of Illinois residency of at least one year, and purchase auto insurance.