An Illinois lawmaker is again under fire for alleged anti-gay comments in emails to constituents.
Rep. Tom Morrison (R-54) compared same-sex marriage to statutory rape in an email obtained by Windy City Times to a constituent.
In the email, Morrison asks where the line would be drawn of same-sex couples were allowed to marry.
"If one male and one female is discriminatory, then isn't limitation of marriage to just two people discriminatory, too?" he wrote. "There are men who would like to marry two or more consenting females. Would you define their relationship as marriage, too? Could a man marry a consenting 9-year old girl? Why not? To refuse them would be discrimination. Again, where would you draw the line?
"If you say a man and a 9-year old girl in marriage is absurd, then I would point out that only 20 years ago or so it would have been considered absurd that two men or two women could marry."
Morrison's position against equal marriage has been well-documented. Last July, he was among a group of lawmakers who introduced a bill reaffirming the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Last month, he took heat for a similar email exchange with a constituent. According to DailyKos.com, Morrison speculated that if equal marriage passed, "bisexual individuals could argue that they ought to be permitted to marry both sexes at the same time."
Morrison said he regretted his latest, which he said were "inappropriate, inflammatory" and "distracting."
"I do not equate same-sex marriage with marriage to nine-year olds," Morrison said. "I don't want anyone in my district to feel like they are slighted or disrespected."
Morrison said he was trying to make a point that laws are based on value judgments. He also said he emailed his constituent a second time in an effort to clarify his stance. That full email is provided below.
I got an email and phone call tonight from Natasha Korecki at the Chicago Sun-Times. She told me that you were upset by the last email I sent you regarding SB10.
I get hundreds if not thousands of emails everyday, and I do my best to read and personally respond to as many as I can. Sometimes in my haste to deliver, words or thoughts do not translate well.
As you're well aware, we do disagree on this issue and likely will continue to disagree. That's OK. I have my strongly felt reasons, and you have yours.
To be clear, however: I do not equate same sex marriage with statutory rape.
The point I was trying to make was this: the state already has certain restrictions on what marriage is. The law itself makes distinctions on who can and cannot marry. For example, one cannot be married to more than one person at the same time. You are not advocating for polyamory (I don't think), but there are those in Illinois who do. Just google Polyamory Chicago, and see for yourself. They argue that the state is discriminating against their sexual orientation, love, desire to commit, freedom, equality, etc.
The state also defines the age at which individuals may marry. There are groups today that believe young girls ought to be able to marry. Check out the following: ( jonathanturley.org/2010/02/26/marriage "Saudi Cleric Defends Marriage of Nine-Year-Old Girls and Blasts Human Rights Treaties as the Work of Atheists and Fornicators"). Yes, I find that shocking, too! Saudi Arabia is not Illinois obviously, but would this Saudi Cleric consider IL's law on marriage to be discriminatory? Probably. I think it's a fair question to ask. By whose standards do we make our laws? I learned to drive a car at age 10. Was the state prejudicial against me in not allowing me to get a license and drive until I was 16? Why not 15? Why not 12? Why not 10?
So how do we as a society deal with differences of opinion and beliefs on important and emotional issues?
We have a democratic process here. The people's elected representatives are deciding whether or not our state's marriage law should be re-defined. Our society is engaged in a healthy debate about that now. You and I can continue to engage in that now, if you wish, either via email, phone call, or in person. In fact, I will be meeting with a Palatine man who is in a same sex civil union later this summer (assuming SB10 still hasn't been decided by then). You and I could also meet individually or as a group to discuss this.
Changing a law like this is not a light matter. Same sex relationships have been around for millenia, obviously, but codifying marriage as a relationship without regard to gender is a shift of enormous proportions. Interracial marriages have been in existence for millenia, too. Though they were temporarily (in the scope of human history) outlawed in certain jurisdictions, the unions were still of man and woman. That's why I don't believe it's appropriate to say SB10 is analogous with interracial marriage laws, by the way.
Just two years ago, in a lame duck session, the legislature passed a civil unions law. You may believe that it was late in coming, or inadequate, or still discriminatory to same sex couples; you and I haven't discussed those details so I don't know. During the debate two years ago, however, the sponsors of the civil unions bill stated that marriage was not their end goal. They also stated that religious individuals and organizations would not be affected if the civil unions law was enacted. We discovered in short order that neither was the case. Same sex marriage is under discussion now, and two large religious-based adoption agencies have had their state contracts cancelled due to religious beliefs. That's why opponents have real concerns about SB10.
Kathleen, I don't seek to intentionally offend or be condescending to anyone, and if I was to you it was unintentional, and I genuinely apologize. If this ever happens again, please do not hesitate to contact my staff or me personally, and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.