Note: Dignity/Chicago sent the attached letter to a group of Catholic Illinois House Representatives to urge them to support the Marriage Equality Bill SB10.
Dignity/Chicago, the advocacy organization for LGBT Catholics, joins more than 250 religious leaders from across the state in support of marriage equality in Illinois.
As an authentic voice for LGBT and supportive Illinois Catholics for more than 40 years, Dignity/Chicago has been consistent in its mission to affirm the sanctity of same-sex relationships and all expressions of gender identity. We recognize that stable families are vital to a healthy society and believe that all of society benefits by enlarging the circle of those who can receive the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage. Dignity/Chicago, like the majority of Catholics, both lay people and clergy, believes that all couples and families that come together in love are "natural" families.
As a community rooted in the Catholic tradition, Dignity recognizes the sacred nature of the life-long commitment of marriage and we believe that religious organizations can and should bless and celebrate such unions for LGBT people, as we have done throughout our forty-year history. However, the issue at hand is civil marriage, a matter we believe is about extending the rights and responsibilities of the marriage contract to same-sex couples by the state of Illinois. We strongly support this expansion of equality in our state.
We recognize that our position is in opposition to that of our church hierarchy. But polls show that the majority of lay Catholics support opening civil marriage to LGBT couples. For lay Catholics and for many religious, this is an issue of justice and an issue of family. While we respect the right of Cardinal George and other religious leaders to speak out in opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples, their position does not reflect the full truth on this issue. It does not reflect the lived experience of LGBT couples in committed relationships, nor the experience of their families.
Dignity Chicago calls upon all people of good faith to join with us in affirming a just and caring society that recognizes the rights of all people, including those in committed same-sex relationships. We call on our legislators to support passage of the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which grants the full legal and societal recognition that same-sex couples seek in justice and in support of their families.
To borrow a quote from Cardinal George, we also believe that, "This proposed legislation will have long term consequences because laws teach; they tell us what is socially acceptable and what is not…" Indeed this is true and Dignity/Chicago hopes that most people will learn through this law that LGBT families are not "less than," but are rather full members of our society with all the rights and responsibilities that entails.
For more information about Dignity's support of same-sex marriage from a Catholic perspective, please visit www.dignityusa.org .
As independent organizations created to support LGBT Catholics and our families and friends, DignityUSA and Dignity/Chicago envision and work for a time when LGBT Catholics are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality, and, as beloved persons of God, participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and society. We minister through education, advocacy and worship and believe that same-sex relationships are loving, life-giving and life-affirming.
We urge you to vote in favor of SB10 and allow same-sex couples to be fully recognized in the state of Illinois.