The Thomas More Law Center is the latest group to discourage Illinois lawmakers from supporting marriage equality. In addition to reiterating trite complaints about children having to learn same-sex families exist and religious hospitals having to serve gay patients, the Catholic legal group goes on to claim that any Illinois resident who isn’t free to discriminate against gay people will “suffer”:
The harms noted above do not begin to address the suffering of your constituents who must participate in and support same-sex unions: small bed & breakfast owners who would be forced to rent out their home for same-sex wedding weekends; solo photographers who would be forced to spend hours photographing and designing albums for same-sex wedding ceremonies that they believe to be sinful; family catering company owners being forced to prepare, feed, serve, and support same-sex wedding receptions, even though the family members oppose those receptions with every fiber of their being. In other states, such businesses have been fined and subject to injunctions, some even permanently shutting down to avoid legal penalty.
A “yes” vote will inflict these harms, all for the sake of giving the title “married” to some number of the fewer than 1% of Illinois households headed by same-sex couples.
It’s interesting how conservative groups are growing more blunt about their intent to discriminate. No interpretation is required to discern the present argument: people will suffer if they have to provide basic services to same-sex couples. This is a petulant attempt to preserve a superior status for heterosexuality while forcing same-sex families into the shadows. More importantly, the argument is irrelevant — it’s already illegal under the Illinois Human Rights Act to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation when providing public services. This is just as true now with civil unions legal as it would be when marriage equality passes.
The group’s letter ends with a claim that marriage equality must be rejected “in the name of tolerance.” There is nothing about expressing a desire to deny services to a group of people that speaks to “tolerance.”