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posted: 2/25/2013 5:00 AM

Marriage equality good for communities

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I'm writing in response to recent letters in the Daily Herald about marriage equality in Illinois. Contrary to the letter titled "The reckless course to gay marriage," there have been many very strong "reasoned arguments" supporting its passage. It's good for business, it's good for our communities, it's good for children to be raised by committed parents who are recognized in the eyes of the law, and it removes the linguistic ambiguity that currently challenges couples in civil unions.

But for me, the right to participate in a marriage that wouldn't be considered "traditional" is not a question of commerce or definitions, but the chance to marry the person I've loved for five years -- not just my "good friend" or "roommate." For me, my "nontraditional" marriage is the opportunity to invite my family and friends to celebrate my lifelong commitment to another person. It's about having my dad, who would have struggled with attending a gay wedding just a few short years ago, participate in our marriage ceremony. It's the idea of asking my beautiful younger sister to be a bridesmaid and the prospect of seeing my grandmother lead the group on the dance floor during the "Electric Slide." And it's my chance to dance with my mom to Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," a song she's said she didn't appreciate until after I was born.

That's what my wedding will be, and I'm confident it's not very different from the "traditional" weddings celebrated by the hundreds of opposite-sex couples who are married every day. Illinois should be the 10th state to approve marriage equality, and I applaud the Daily Herald's leadership in endorsing it. Love is not -- and should never be -- defined as traditional or nontraditional, and neither should marriage.

Justin Richards

Clarendon Hills

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