Let’s be clear. Governor Pat Quinn’s backing of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples has been up to this point both noble and courageous.
Critics of the civil union legislation sponsored by State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)—primarily Republicans but also some Democrats—routinely demagogue on the topic, threatening all sorts of fire, brimstone, and floods to befall Illinois if gay and lesbian couples jointly file state tax returns. Quinn recognizes the hooey of it all and forcefully pushes back against it.
However, critics have no exclusive monopoly on civil unions hooey. Quinn advanced some hooey of his own in favor of civil unions the other day, claiming civil unions are good for the Illinois economy.
According to the Associated Press’ Deanna Belland, Quinn said on Thursday:
“To have a strong economy, you embrace diversity.”
Quinn said it sends a message to companies when Illinois has laws that respect the diversity of the state.
State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) had pledged during his campaign against Quinn to veto civil unions legislation if elected. He wasn’t. Thank goodness.
However, American businesses are not waiting for politicians to act on civil unions. No company is refusing to set up shop in Illinois because of the absence of civil unions. In fact, more than of half of the nation’s fortune 500 companies—286—already recognize the civil unions of their employees by providing equal benefits to same-sex couples. And 85% of them prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation—a fact that betrays Brady’s blabbering ignorance that, as a businessman, he understands business.
But for Quinn to equate civil unions to what’s good for business, he cheapens the moral imperative of the legislation, likening it to a tourist attraction—hey, we’ve got Oak Street Beach, Millennium Park, The Art Institute, Starved Rock and civil unions for your employees to enjoy.
By sticking to the basic message of equality for all Illinois residents, Quinn stands on more solid, moral ground.