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posted: 10/8/2013 5:00 AM

No clergy forced to perform civil unions

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Anna Scott of Grayslake, I'd like to alleviate your fears about civil unions, which have been legal in Illinois since 2011. No religious institutions have been prosecuted, nor has any clergy member been arrested. Civil unions are legal contracts recognized by the state. No religious ceremony must be performed in order to obtain a civil union.

I realize it can be confusing. The word "marriage" is usually associated only with religious meaning. But marriage is much more than just a religious ceremony or a historical tradition. It is also a universally accepted legal status between spouses.

Marriage comes with a list of 1,049 rights and protections. Civil unions provide only 300 state level benefits. They don't provide the same tax relief benefits or the right to make an emergency medical decision for your partner or even the same death benefits, to name just a few. The main objective for gay couples is to obtain the legal rights provided by marriage. It is not about the rite of marriage.

My son and his partner will be married in 2014. There are many options open to them if they choose a religious ceremony. There is no need to force any religious institution to marry them. Gay couples are already being welcomed by many congregations. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We can all coexist. I hope this helps you understand, Anna. God bless!

Joanne Gurion

Rolling Meadows

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