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Lyons: Retire social issues and fix pensions

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Speak now or forever hold the piece you intend to pack. Illinoisans have been held captive by matters that don’t much affect most of them, and we should expect that trend to continue for at least several more weeks.

Never mind pension debt and the budget crisis that impacts each and every state resident from gay bridegrooms to wannabe cowboys.

Appreciating that there are many people who are passionate about those issues, they simply don’t directly impact the vast majority of people, even if some have strong views one way or the other.

As a typical suburban schlub, I happen to be happily married to a woman (who is not a schlub), and the only thing I’m likely to brandish when trouble brews is a smartphone.

My hope is that this marriage will work for the long haul and that I’ll never need to consider marrying a guy. As I’ve told my gay friends, I don’t possess any particular cultural talents that would benefit other members of their affiliation, so I’m not expecting any recruitment letters.

Then there’s the concealed-carry issue. Again, I have no dog in this fight. No incidents at Little League, Sunday church services or trips to the Super Walmart have left me with the impression that I might need to exchange lead with an evil cattle ranch owner or psychotic gangster on any given day.

In the event that a concealed-carry law passes, I’ll continue to live dangerously, trusting in the police and the citizen heroes who navigated the bureaucracy well enough to get a permit and a snazzy shoulder holster.

What would be better for Illinoisans is if legislators put both of these matters behind them and got back to the business of state government.

Whether you morally support gay marriage or not, the majority of Americans do. A marriage certificate is nothing more than a government document that entitles a couple to the same benefits and rights that other married couples have. Religion shouldn’t enter into it.

Your church doesn’t have to like gay marriage, sanction it, bless it or even acknowledge it. You don’t have to pick anything from the china pattern on the registry and are free to toss the RSVP envelope in the trash in protest although it will still be considered bad form regardless of sexual orientation.

As for concealed carry, 49 states already have it. Illinois is better at virtually nothing (Blackhawks hockey notwithstanding) than the rest of the country. What makes us think we have some measure of enlightenment when it comes to this?

Some law-abiding gun owners who already have been following current gun laws will apply for permits when a law is finally passed. The real dangerous criminal will continue to disregard any law on the books or even in discussion.

So please, vote on these issues and move on. It’s not that they’re of no importance, but they’re distracting from the critical issue of a public pension debt of around $90 billion that is financially crippling this state.

Illinois Democratic leaders won’t be able to carry their concealed marriage with public employee unions under a veil of social issues forever.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at kelyons@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinLyonsNWH.

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