Illinois is one of the biggest and most important states in the nation. It’s President Obama’s home state. Democrats have a super-majority in both houses of the legislature. Governor Pat Quinn is a prominent supporter of so-called same-sex marriage, as is the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s former chief of staff), and the leaders of both houses of the legislature. For months, Illinois was expected to be the next major victory for advocates of same-sex marriage. President Obama, Governor Quinn, Mayor Emanuel, and other prominent Democrats put their prestige on the line to actively campaign for the proposed law. Advocates licked their chops, just waiting to celebrate their certain victory. Yet a funny thing happened on the way to this “inevitable” redefining of marriage — it didn’t happen.
So much for inevitability.
What happened in Illinois is huge. It’s the last major state to consider redefining marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 upholding traditional marriage. It’s so important, in fact, that the mainstream media is doing everything it can to avoid having to report on what happened — an example of the overwhelming media bias in favor of same-sex marriage that was shown in the recent journalism report of the Pew Center that examined news coverage of the gay-marriage issue.
What happened in Illinois is that African-American pastors worked hard to reach and convince African-American legislators to stand tall for the truth of marriage — that it is an institution created by God to bring men and women together for the benefit of children that can only be created through the union of men and women. That’s what marriage is, and that’s the truth that these pastors demanded that legislators recognize.
President Obama tried to defeat them by personally lobbying legislators. So did Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel. They all failed.
Many groups worked hard to defeat this attempt to redefine marriage, including the Illinois Family Institute, Illinois Catholic Conference, Illinois Family PAC, and the National Organization for Marriage. But African-American clergy who would not be dissuaded from speaking out for truth made the difference.
There are many heroes in this battle, including former Democratic state senator Reverend James Meeks, Bishop Lance Davis, Bishop Larry Trotter, and the members of the African-American Clergy Coalition.
Together these heroes for marriage did what few thought possible — defeating gay-marriage advocates and their supporters in the legislature in the bluest of blue states. They did it by refusing to blink in the face of political pressure because they believed in the truth of marriage.
To be sure, the victory in Illinois is not assured. After all, Illinois politicians are well-known for contorting the rules (or tossing them aside entirely). Speaker Mike Madigan utilized a legislative maneuver that keeps the bill alive to be considered in a special legislative session like the one that’s been called to deal with pension reform. It come could come up again, either in a special session or in the veto session scheduled for this fall.
But one thing has already been demonstrated clearly and unequivocally: There is absolutely nothing about same-sex marriage that is inevitable. It’s one of the most hotly contested issues in the country, including in deep-blue states like Illinois. It proves that there are millions of Americans — indeed many tens of millions — who believe, passionately, in the truth of marriage. And they are prepared to stand and fight for it.
Led by a group of African-American pastors in this land of Lincoln, the state of Illinois has proven that when leaders stand on principle and speak the truth, marriage is preserved. Let that be a lesson to all the politicians and journalists (and the occasional dispirited pro-marriage advocate) out there who are tempted to buy the lie of ‘inevitability.’
— Brian Brown is president of the National Organization for Marriage.