Illinois Family Institute - Prayer Team

Illinois Family Institute is an anti-gay hate group motivated by fundamentalist religious zealotry. They are a chapter of the domestic Taliban. IFI has some odd ideas about what constitutes a civil marriage. Like most of these groups, they conform their definition to their agenda. In this case:

Marriage is not solely or centrally about love. It is centrally concerned with children and their connection to their
biological parents. The state has no interest or investment in whether couples love each other. If marriage were solely
or even centrally about love and had no connection to children, the state would have no interest in or business being
involved with marriage.

First of all, a precondition of marriage in modern times is that the participants love each other. What IFI is suggesting is that, just because two people love each other, doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to marry. That is true. So what?

I took a look at Illinois’ family law statutes this afternoon. I’ll get to that in a moment. IFI claims that the state’s interest in marriage is about the wellbeing of children — specifically the “biological” offspring that the marriage produces or might produce. Were that not the case, they claim, then the state would have no interest in marriage. That is false.

750 ILCS 5/102 (from Ch. 40, par. 102):

    Sec. 102. Purposes; Rules of Construction. This Act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are to:

  1. provide adequate procedures for the solemnization and registration of marriage;
  2. strengthen and preserve the integrity of marriage and safeguard family relationships;
  3. promote the amicable settlement of disputes that have arisen between parties to a marriage;
  4. mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage [the first mention of children in the statute];
  5. make reasonable provision for spouses and minor children during and after litigation, including provision for timely awards of interim fees to achieve substantial parity in parties’ access to funds for litigation costs;
  6. eliminate the consideration of marital misconduct in the adjudication of rights and duties incident to the legal dissolution of marriage, legal separation and declaration of invalidity of marriage;
  7. secure the maximum involvement and cooperation of both parents regarding the physical, mental, moral and emotional well-being of the children during and after the litigation; and
  8. make provision for the preservation and conservation of assets during the litigation.

Seems to me that the state’s interest in children is limited to their welfare in the event that the marriage dissolves. In my very red state of Florida, the law is the same.

IFI is using a definition of convenience in order to oppose marriage equality. The bottom line to this nonsense is that they have a religious objection. It is akin to a devout Jew who not only objects to eating pork — he objects to anyone eating pork and wants that aversion enshrined into civil law.

Earlier, within the same document, IFI claims:

There exists no such thing as “same-sex” marriage. Although marriage licenses are being issued by some state governments to homosexual couples, there are in reality no homosexual marriages—never were, are not now, never will be. Marriage is an institution ordained by God in Genesis: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh,” and reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6.

All societies throughout recorded history have publicly recognized the institution of marriage as a sexually complementary public institution. The government’s obligation is merely to recognize legally what marriage actually is. The government has no business creating an entirely new—and destructive—institution and then attaching to it the name of marriage.

If IFI does not believe that same-sex marriage exists, even when sanctioned by the state and federal government, then what is their problem?  Later on in Genesis, by the way, among all the antipathy about eating forbidden fruit: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Things have changed. IFI places a great deal of reliance on a book claiming that mankind, today, descended from eight people of common descent who survived the flood. That might be the basis for faith but not civil law in a highly developed society.

What IFI thinks is common to “all societies” is not only incorrect but irrelevant and selective observation. Almost all societies throughout the majority of human history have also kept slaves and married off their daughters as property. Throughout the vast majority of human history, Christianity was irrelevant. Most societies (including Christians) for most of human history have employed torture as a formal part of their system of justice. For much of human history marriage meant one man and several women. In most societies, throughout most of human history, only the elite were literate.

Today is today and our society has changed considerably (mostly for the better) over just the last 150 years. We are no longer slavers, women have the right to vote and we no longer keep indentured servants. Jews are no longer openly discriminated against (although Christians claim that we are destined to hell). Jim Crow is gone and we signed civil rights into federal law in 1964. We finally have our first African-American President. 14 states plus the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages. They exist regardless of the fact that IFI withholds its approval and recognition (which is immaterial).

Marriage equality is just one more step forward. The only people affected, in any way whatsoever, are the gay couples who marry and their children. We know that marriage, as an institution, does not change because a few gay couples get hitched. We also know that many gay couples already have children and that those kids are better off with married parents. Decades of research demonstrates that the children of gay couples do just as well as the children of heterosexual couples. They are just as healthy, happy and successful.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.