Faith Groups Oppose Gay Marriage

By: Jessica Geraci. The AP Email
By: Jessica Geraci. The AP Email

'Modern Family' actor pushes for gay marriage

CHICAGO (AP) -- Advocates of gay marriage in Illinois are getting a boost from a television star from ABC's "Modern Family."

   Jesse Tyler Ferguson is openly gay and plays Mitchell Pritchett on the show. He's launching a "Bow Tie Lobby Day" in Springfield Thursday. It symbolizes tying the knot.

   In Chicago on Wednesday, Ferguson said he struggled with coming out but having a president who supports gay marriage gives him hope.

   Lawmakers have reconvened in Springfield and plan to consider a proposal legalizing gay marriage.

   Supporters say momentum in other states will work in their favor. They've received support from top business executives, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and some clergy members.

   However, some religious groups aren't on board. Chicago's Cardinal Francis George has urged parishioners to let legislators know they oppose gay marriage.

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Lawmakers are looking to take civil unions a step further. A senate committee will debate the legalization of gay marriage on Thursday. Both sides of the issue are campaigning hard to gather support in Springfield.

Reverend David Meggers of Christ the Rock Lutheran Church in Rockford is one of 1,700 religious leaders from around Illinois urging lawmakers to vote no on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. In a letter to state lawmakers, these faith groups say, this proposal would compel their congregations to compromise their long held beliefs.

"I wouldn’t use the word gay and marriage in the same sentence because marriage is between one man and one woman. Marriage for us is the inion between one man and one woman," says Meggers.

Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims and others came together to pen the letter, a move that Meggers says is encouraging.
"Quite often we are more at odds then we are in agreement over something so it is good to see these groups coalesce around something like this," Meggers adds.

However, he and the other religious organizations face some high profile competition. Hollywood actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson appeared in Chicago on Wednesday to drum up support for marriage equity in Illinois, with the state's lieutenant governor at his side.
“I wish I were an odds maker, but I can’t tell you but I’m optimistic and I'm pleased to be part of the effort,” says Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon, when asked if she thinks the bill will pass.

The top Republican in the state, party chair Pat Brady, is even calling on fellow lawmakers to pass the bill. President Obama has also thrown his support behind the measure.

No matter the outcome, Meggers hopes the discussion on gay marriage in Illinois will remain respectful.

"I think that's what makes me glad to be a citizen of the united states is that we can have these kinds of disagreements that doesn’t mean we dislike each other, we can argue over these kinds of issues."

“If the legislature passes the marriage equality bill, Illinois would become the 10th state to legalize same sex marriage. Civil unions became legal in 2011.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Members of Illinois religious groups -- from Catholic to Muslim -- have sent every state lawmaker a letter calling gay marriage "dangerous" to religious freedom.

The letter sent Wednesday is signed or supported by leaders of more than 1,700 churches, congregations and faith groups. It was given to The Associated Press in advance.

A legislative proposal to grant same-sex marriage could come before the Senate on Wednesday night.

Proponents say it would legalize civil marriage. Religious organizations would not have to recognize them.

But the letter says religious freedom extends beyond the house of worship. A law would "compel" faith groups to treat same-sex unions as the equivalent of traditional marriage.

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