Illinois and Gay Marriage: A Match Made In Heaven

By Beyza Ozer

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Senior Beyza Ozer on gay marriage.

Senior Beyza Ozer on gay marriage.

Among the nine states that recognize same-sex marriage as legal, Illinois is surprisingly not one of them — not yet, anyway. I say surprisingly because Chicago is the third most LGBTQ ranked populous city in all of America. Illinois also carries 3.8 percent of the LGBTQ population, which is currently in fifth place of the state-ranking demographic, right behind California, Florida,  New York,and Texas. All of the statistics show it, yet gay marriage is still credited as illegal in the state of Illinois.

The only reason that I can think of that makes gay marriage a “problem” in America, as well as the rest of the world, is because of tradition and religion. That isn’t to say that both of those reasons are wrongful in themselves. Those who choose to believe in a religion or follow a certain tradition have that right and should embrace it, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to take away someone else’s rights because of who they are. Sexual orientation is just a part of a whole person and LGBTQ citizens deserve the same rights as a heterosexual person. That’s the big issue that a lot of society tends to ignore, that people can choose to believe in a higher power, but they can’t chose who they fall in love with.

Not only is it morally justified to legalize same-sex marriage, it’s also economically stimulating. In an article recently released by Human Rights Campaign, it showed that if Illinois was to legalize gay marriage, the state’s economy would drastically improve. A study showed that committed same-sex couples would equate $103 million for the local government to spend, as well as an extra 281 jobs that would come with wedding companies. Also, because of the 23,000+ couples in Illinois that would be able to get married if the legislation passes, the total local and state tax revenue would rise by $8.5 million which would make Illinois one of the most economically efficient states in America. If 64 percent of same-sex couples would plan to marry the first year of the legislation passing, then what’s taking so long? Why are we dragging this process out if gay marriage will be legalized soon enough? America cannot stay ignorant forever.

The bill for same-sex marriage was passed out of the Senate this past Valentine’s Day and is now awaiting the vote by the House of Representatives, who have yet to take the bill into consideration. The House is currently on a two week vacation which just gives those with the opposition time to gain more followers and try to convince the House to not let the bill pass. Illinois can’t let that happen because as a state, we want to move forward. We want our LGBTQ citizens to feel loved, safe, and at home here.

People’s opinions are changing everyday and are becoming more open-minded. This past Tuesday, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk became the second member of the GOP to endorse same-sex marriage. What’s more impressive is that he’s under the Republican national platform which is known to oppose the same-sex marriage issue. Kirk shared an amazing statement which said, “When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others. Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most. Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back — government has no place in the middle.” I find Kirk’s mindset truly inspiring and I hope that because of his brave decision to come out (no pun intended) and voice his opinion, that more people will soon follow in his footsteps.

The moral of the story: it’s 2013. It’s time for all American citizens to have equal rights and share the same opportunities. Why not have Illinois pave the way to a brighter future? We are the generation that has the power to challenge the issues we care most about and starting locally is the only way to go. It’s time to make a difference.