Groups push same-sex marriage

Religious leaders, gay-rights advocates and other supporters of marriage equality presented petitions to two McHenry County lawmakers Monday in support of same-sex marriage.

Members of Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and the United States Transgender Advocacy group in Wonder Lake met at the offices of state Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, and state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, to show their support for marriage equality.

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote on marriage equality legislation this week.

“It’s questionable, but we’re hopeful,” Edward Buzinski said about the possibility of Illinois voting to allow same-sex marriage. Buzinski and his partner, Richard Beck, have been together for 51 years. “We want to be on the right side of history.”

About 20 people squeezed into Althoff’s conference room to show support for gay marriage. Althoff was in Springfield on Monday, and her legislative aide, Catherine Danca, met with the group on her behalf.

Danca said Althoff did not have a statement prepared and she would not say whether Althoff will vote for or against gay marriage. She noted that Althoff had concerns about language of the bill regarding religious freedom – specifically giving churches an option not to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Franks could not be reached for comment.

Patrick Murfin, chairman of the social justice committee at Unitarian Universalist Congregation, assured Danca that the bill would not require churches to perform same-sex ceremonies.

“The proposed law … is very considerate of the rights of all religions to conduct their own affairs, recognize their own standards of marriage and not to compel, in any way, any church to perform or internally recognize these unions,” he said.

Monday’s petitions had more than 60 signatures.

“We’re here because, with all of our hearts, we want the marriage equality bill to pass,” PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois President Toni Weaver said. “We want to see those we know and love have equal treatment under the law and to have their love relationships recognized.

“We’re hoping that Pamela [Althoff] will have the courage to buck the Republican Party in McHenry County.”

The same-sex marriage bill could come up for a vote in the Senate on Thursday. If approved, the bill would move to the House. Illinois would be the 10th state in nation to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

“When it comes to marriage equality, there shouldn’t be a reason why we shouldn’t have the same rights as everybody else,” said Crystal Gray, executive director of the United States Transgender Advocacy group in Wonder Lake. “We ask for the same rights. We don’t ask to be treated differently.”

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