31 May 2011

I Am So Proud of Illinois

I live in Illinois. At times, it is possible to be proud of our history: we are as our license plates and slogan proclaim, "The Land of Lincoln," and more recently President Obama whom we share with Hawaii and Kenya ;-). We are also the State of Stephan Douglas, John Peter Altgeld one of the most decent people ever to be a governor of any State; U. S. Grant, Phil Sheridan, William Tecumseh Shurman, and a number of other military geniuses; and some amazing academic institutions including University of Chicago where Enrico Fermi and others dragged us into the nuclear age.

The dark side is that most people know us for Al Capone, Frank Nitty, and the national organized crime families of the 1930's. We are probably as well known for the .45Cal submachine gun made in Connecticut, as we are for Michael Jordan who is from North Carolina. We are also famous for political corruption.

We deserve that, we are the State of George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Tony Resco, and an entirely corrupt set of judges exposed in the "grey lord" investigations. If we have Lincoln, we have Blagojevich. And yet, tomorrow, we become something special.

Today is the last day Illinois will refuse to recognize the lesbian and gay families here. Tomorrow, a lesbian / gay couple can go to the county clerk and obtain a license just like straight couples do. They can take that to a judge or willing religious authority and become a legally recognized family.

For all practical purposes, within Illinois couples who do that will be married. OK, the State won't call it that, and the religious ceremonies generally will follow the State. So, as I have been joking with friends, what we will be doing is "unioning" them. But only when we get to the land of DOMA, and of Federal tax discrimination will the difference matter.

Illinois has moved into the group of States that respects and affirms lesbian and gay couples that want to stand within the circle. Couples who quite validly want the State to recognize that they exist and contribute. This has not been easy for us. Chicago is one of the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the country. This is the State that nominated Alan Keyes on a major party ticket to be a US Senator. But somehow we got here: with a governor whom even his opponents think of as honest, a legislature that has a sense of history and justice, and a government that actually works:, we got here.

Today we hear from an example of what not to do - Blagojevich testifies in Federal Court. Thursday, Thursday(!) the mayor of Chicago and the Governor of Illinois attend the joining of 30 couples in Grant Park to celebrate a day of liberation. Politicians everywhere will take note because when people like the mayor and governor make the decision to attend, clearly the politics have changed. The justice train is leaving the station and it is time to get on board! Illinois is famous for its railroads too.



Leonard said...


MadPriest said...

In England, where we're not that up on American history, Illinois is simply known as JImB Country.

Christal said...

Woo-hoo!!! Well-written!!

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