Thursday, December 2, 2010

Illinois Senate Passes Civil Unions, Despite Cardinal George's Opposition

An update to the story about which I posted two days ago: the outspoken opposition of the Illinois Catholic Conference to a bill for same-sex civil unions in that state.  As I noted in a subsequent posting, the bill passed the Illinois House and was then presented to the Senate.

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate voted in favor of the bill.  It will now go to Gov. Quinn, who is expected to sign it.  

As Christopher Wills and Carla K. Johnson note in the TPM article to which I've just linked, the outgoing president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference Cardinal Francis George fought hard against this civil unions bill, though some members of the Catholic hierarchy have sought to claim that they're not opposed to civil unions for gay couples--only to gay marriage.  Since lack of legal recognition exposes gay couples in long-term committed relationships to discrimination, and has negative consequences for any children they might have, in opposing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, bishops are actually promoting discrimination.

As the Chicago Tribune notes, the bill gives gay couples "the chance to enjoy several of the same rights as married couples, ranging from legal rights on probate matters to visiting a partner in a hospital that won’t allow anyone but relatives into a patient’s room."  

This is what Catholic pastors like Cardinal George are opposing, then: the right of one member of a gay couple to visit his or her dying partner in the hospital.  By defending cruel injustice and discrimination, the outgoing president of the USCCB is making mincemeat of the magisterium's claim to stand against all forms of unjust discrimination, and for human rights for every human being.  This is, of course, why younger Catholics are walking away from the church in droves at this point in its history.

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