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Governor Pat Quinn, Human Rights

Our View: Illinois Civil Unions Are Not a Tourist Attraction

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 PressDeanna 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.

About David Ormsby

David, a public relations consultant and blogger at The Huffington Post, is an ex-Press Secretary of the Illinois Democratic Party.


4 Responses to “Our View: Illinois Civil Unions Are Not a Tourist Attraction”

  1. I respect your comment that there is no evidence of companies avoiding a move to Illinois because of our marriage laws, but how could being known as a diverse, progressive state hurt our image? With the negative image we’ve created for ourselves by electing a number of criminals to office over the past 30 years, maybe it’s time to do something dramatic and positive to progress our state’s image. I’d love to see us be among the positive leaders in government for a change.

    Posted by Robin | November 12, 2010, 9:44 AM
  2. Robin,

    Being known as a progressive state is, of course, is good for Illinois, but its polished image should be a by-product of doing the right thing, not the reason for doing the right thing.

    Thank you for reading.


    Posted by David Ormsby | November 12, 2010, 10:16 AM
  3. If half of the fortune 500 companies recognize civil unions, then maybe the government needs to set an example and lead the other half to awakening.

    And only 85% prohibit sexual orientation discrimination? Obscene.

    But to get over inertia, legislators are going to have to come up with a variety of reasons that win over some conservatives–like the economy. They’re probably not the real reason but just supporting arguments.

    Posted by Evan | November 12, 2010, 11:09 AM
  4. While I applaud your progressive views on providing equality for all Illinoisans, civil unions are still not full equality — civil unions are merely a glossing over of the all important status of true marriage. Heterosexuals who marry have over 1,000 federal benefits. Depending on the wording, civil unions may offer some protections, but only at the state level. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, there are no federal benefits to civil unions or marriage.

    FULL equality will eventually be the norm (including overturning the ridiculous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and adding the Employment Non-discrimination Act. Until then we must “settle” for civil unions, continuing to be 2nd Class Citizens. Thank you for your understanding that providing EQUAL rights is a moral imperative.

    Posted by Carole | November 13, 2010, 8:13 AM

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