The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Illinois' Jewish Bar Association, has for nearly 80 years spoken out for human rights and against public and private practices which are discriminatory and oppressive. In extensive review of HB5170, Decalogue's Legislative committee found that the bill would provide equality for same-sex and separate sex couples seeking state recognition of their marriages without redefining marriage under religious law or compelling any religious denomination to solemnize any marriage against its beliefs.
Decalogue President Michael Strom stated, "because Decalogue fundamentally believes in respect for others and condemns all types of discrimination, we support passage of HB5170 to ensure that all Illinois couples and their children have equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage."
Resolution Regarding HB5170 (The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act)
WHEREAS, the Decalogue Board of Managers affirmatively declared HB5170 proposing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (introduced in the 97th General Assembly of the State of Illinois) to be of interest to the Society and referred HB5170 to the Decalogue Legislative Committee for review;
WHEREAS, the Decalogue Legislative Committee has now reported to the Board that:
(a) The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (750 ILCS 75/1 et seq.), effective June 1, 2011, made it the law of the State of Illinois that parties to a Civil Union (including same-sex couples) are entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses (whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law); however, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act did not permit same-sex couples to be a party to a civil marriage in Illinois;
(b) On its face, the purpose of HB5170 is to now provide both "same-sex couples and different-sex couples and their children equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage";
(c) On its face, HB5170 relates only to civil marriage in Illinois and does not, in any manner or to any degree, redefine the definition of "marriage" under Jewish (biblical) law or under the religious laws/prescriptions of any other religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group; and
(d) On its face, HB5170 will not be implemented in any manner or to any degree to require or otherwise compel rabbis and/or ministers of any other religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group to solemnize and/or otherwise compel them to give a religious wedding to people that they do not want to give a religious wedding to. Rather, HB5170 specifically states that "any religious denomination, Indian Nation or Tribe or Native Group is free to choose which marriages it will solemnize;"
WHEREAS, it is the power of the State of Illinois to establish civil statutes;
WHEREAS, all civil statues enacted in the State of Illinois must conform to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, guaranteeing religious liberty and promoting the strict separation of church and state; and
WHEREAS, Decalogue's core purposes have always included participating in social action, promoting human rights, and maintaining vigilance against public and private practices which are discriminatory and oppressive;
NOW THEREFORE, the Decalogue Board of Managers now hereby resolves, by majority vote, that:
Decalogue fundamentally believes in respect for others; condemns all types of discrimination; supports any legislation that seeks to promote freedom, equality, and justice for all; and believes that HB5170, if passed (subject to the recommended changes enumerated below), would ensure that all Illinois couples and their children have equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights, and responsibilities of civil marriage, as created pursuant to civil statute. Decalogue's President and/or his designee may take such steps as the President, in his discretion, believes are necessary to disseminate Decalogue's position (e.g., to Illinois legislators, bar associations, etc.) in furtherance hereof.
Further, Decalogue recommends that the Illinois Legislature take up modifications to HB5170 to review and make any necessary amendments to §212(a) of the Act (750 ILCS 5/212(a)) to avoid prohibiting now-permitted marriages through the creation of new prohibited marriages by reason of consanguinity.
The full text of Decalogue's resolution of support can be found at www.decaloguesociety.org .