Opponents pledge to try to rescind same-sex marriage

Updated 11/5/2013 5:35 PM

Opponents warn of political and societal fallout from Tuesday's votes backing same-sex in Illinois, but say it's unlikely lawsuits will be filed to try and overturn the measure once it becomes law.

What is likely is that state legislators who voted in favor of Senate Bill 10 will face tough re-election campaigns, according to Kathy Valente, director of operations at the Carol Stream-based Illinois Family Institute.


"There are definitely going to be ramifications. There are going to be (election) primaries because of this," she said. "We're going to give the guys that voted in favor of it a pink slip. Send them home. They're not representing their districts."

Valente believes the legislature is "awakening a sleeping giant" by backing same-sex marriage. She said there's strong opposition to gay marriage across the white, black, Latino and Asian communities and that voters will voice their disapproval at the polls next year.

After the Illinois House and Senate voted Tuesday, the measure is on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk, and he says he'll sign it.

Efforts to rescind the law will most likely be done legislatively rather than legally, says Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of Thomas More Society, a Chicago law firm that defends traditional marriage.

Breen expects there will be legal challenges related to religious freedoms, citing examples such as a bed and breakfast that doesn't want to host a same-sex wedding reception, a faith-based charity that doesn't want to recognize a married gay couple or a parent who doesn't want a child taught in school that same-sex marriage is the same as opposite-sex marriage.

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The legislation specifies that ministers or clergy do not have to perform same-sex marriages and that religious groups do not have to allow use of any facilities for same-sex marriages.

"(The Illinois law) is the least protective of the rights of people of faith of any such bill in the country," Breen said. "There are consequences people have not really thought through. There's a lot more to this than merely allowing two people to publicly express their love for one another."

Opponents say their main objection is that making gay marriage legal puts the wishes of adults over the best interests of children.

"When you say two men can get married and adopt children, they are denying that child from having the other-sexed parents being involved in his or her life, and it's a tragedy," Valente said.

Lawmakers approved civil unions in Illinois in 2010, but no lawsuits were filed challenging the bill. And there haven't been lawsuits aimed at overturning same-sex marriage bills in other states like Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island.


"To sue to overturn a policy, you have to be able to demonstrate you are harmed by a policy," said Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Extending the freedom to marry to a new group of people doesn't harm anyone else."

Yohnka said there have been lawsuits filed "around the edges" of same-sex marriage issues, but none has sought to overturn same-sex marriage in a state outright.

Still, David Smith, Illinois Family Institute's executive director, said in an interview earlier this year that he has not ruled out the possibility of pursuing a lawsuit.

"I want to keep it open as an option," Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Family Institute will continue lobbying to put the same-sex marriage question on the ballot -- an effort Valente says is repeatedly squashed by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

"Let's put the question to the people," she said.

• Daily Herald staff writer Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.

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