President Obama is urging my state representative Sandy Pihos (42nd) and state senator Kirk Dillard (24th) as well as the entire Illinois General Assembly, to legalize gay marriage when it comes to a vote early this month.
Taking time from the time consuming fiscal cliff donnybrook, the President made this rare, possibly unprecedented foray into state politics because as an Illinoisan and former General Assembly member, he, like me and millions of Illinoisans is ashamed and embarrassed that the Land of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, can only be number ten of states to join the 21st century of human progress and understanding and to reject the fear and the ignorance and hatred that deny first class citizenship to hundreds of thousands of gay Illinoisans.
I don't know how Pihos and Dillard will vote when the roll is called because they won't tell me. But their comments make it clear they would probably prefer a root canal rather than a vote on this historic day. I don't believe either has a homophobic bone in their body, but I suspect their political bones are warning them that it sure won't help them win a future GOP primary with the stain of supporting gay rights on their resume. They've no doubt read the tea leaves of the last two election cycles in which extremist Republican candidates knocked down decent, reasonable folks like them in primaries as if their were bowling pins.
An Obama spokesman summarized the president's view thusly: "While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. As he has said, his personal view is that it's wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally."
Are you listening, Sandy? Are you listening Kirk?