Illinois Civil Unions – Welcomed by Some Religious Leaders

As expected, the Illinois legislation approving civil unions for same sex couples easily passed in the State Senate. The bill now goes to the governor, who has promised to sign. This should take effect from June 1.

What impressed me in the reaction, is that in marked contrast to the familiar claims that this would somehow hurt traditional marriage and harm religion, some religious leaders specifically welcomed it.

Some religious leaders welcomed the legislation. In Chicago, Rabbi Larry Edwards said he’s looking forward to planning celebrations for couples in his Jewish congregation who may decide to form civil unions under Illinois law.

“To those who say it’s a slippery slope and eventually will lead to marriage, I say, ‘I hope so,'” said Edwards of Or Chadash synagogue. “I would like to be on a slippery slope that slides in the direction of justice.”

The Rev. Vernice Thorn, associate pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago said she considers the vote a hopeful sign. “Same-sex legalized marriage is going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

-Washington Post

Precisely – not if, but when.

The usual Catholic spokesmen were less enthusiastic.

The prize for the most outlandish commentary must surely go to the Illinois Family Institute, who complained that the supporters of the bill had failed to examine the issues clearly, and had engaged in emotional, sentimental arguments instead.

The Illinois Family Institute said legislators failed to examine the legislation clearly.

“Proponents engaged in embarrassing and maudlin displays of sentimentality intended to emotionally manipulate rather than intellectually persuade their colleagues,” said executive director David E. Smith.

Really? I did not follow the Illinois arguments (on either side), but the opponents of marriage or family equality are the ones who have consistently failed in court to back up their claims with any evidence whatever – as in the California Prop 8 trial, and in adoption cases in both Florida and Arkansas. It’s unlikely that the Illinois opponents found any more persuasive rational arguments against civil unions: there aren’t any. Their case is based on the completely false idea that extending civil the civil benefits of marriage will somehow harm religion and its value for full marriage – and  selective morality.

Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, accused some opponents of hypocrisy.

“I hear adulterers and womanizers and folks cheating on their wives and down-low brothers saying they’re going to vote against this bill. It turns my stomach,” Hendon said. “We know what you do at night, and you know too.”

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Chicago: More than half of parishes had priest accused of abuse

In Chicago, a careful analysis by activists based on the Church’s own database and on court records has been simply dismissed by the diocese. The report concluded that over half of the diocese’s parishes have at one time or another been served by a priest accused of sexual abuse. The diocesan response was that the priests concerned have been dismissed from ministry.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said officials have not seen the study, but told of the report’s highlights questioned its conclusions.

“From the description of what we have heard, it appears that the analysis and conclusions are questionable,” said Colleen Dolan of the archdiocese in an e-mailed statement. “The priests referred to in the … report have all been removed and are not in ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago.”

This response is entirely beside the point. The report is not about the current situation, but an attempt to illustrate the geographical scale of the problem. Once again, the Church’s response is to entirely ignore the evidence.

Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago taken by Gerald C...

HOLY NAME CATHEDRAL, CHICAGO

 

More than half of Chicago‘s Roman Catholic parishes have had a priest accused of sexually abusing a child working there at some point, according to a study released today that was quickly questioned by the Chicago Archdiocese.

In some cases, multiple priests accused of misconduct worked at the same church, according to the study, conducted by reform groups Voice of the Faithful, African American Advocates for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“In almost 60 percent of the parishes, an accused predator worked there,” said Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP.

For example, from 1980 to 1990, 57.7% of Chicago parishes had an accused priest working there, said Bob Kopp, one of the study’s researchers and vice president of Chicagoland Voice of the Faithful. Other decades examined in the study had similar percentages of affected parishes, he said.

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