I am writing today to express my support for the bill currently before the Illinois legislature that would allow same-sex couples to marry legally. As I am sure you are aware, my support for this legislation imposes no duties on you. I cherish the fact that the Episcopal Church trusts its members to arrive at their own conclusions about moral and political issues. I would like to say a few words, however, about how I came to my opinion, in part because I believe I owe it to you as your bishop, and in part because I believe that the Christian argument for legal marriage equality is not well understood.
The state of Illinois and the Christian church face different questions in determining whether it is good and wise to allow same-sex couples to marry. If one believes in equality before the law, it is extremely difficult to justify denying the benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples. Opponents of the current legislation would have to present compelling evidence that marriage equality will harm our state so deeply that we must continue to deny same-sex couples the rights that opposite-sex couples freely claim for ourselves. I do not believe that the experience of states and countries in which same-sex couples are already free to marry legally supports this case. Rather, extending the benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples has made it easier for them to order their lives together, to care for one another and to raise children in a stable home. Creating stronger, happier households contributes to the common good, and that is enough reason to support any legislation.
As a Christian, I believe that our society needs all of the sources and signs of grace that we can get. As a citizen of the United States, I believe in equal protection under the law. I believe that both ends will be served when marriage equality is the law of the land in Illinois, and I am grateful to be bishop in a church that offers all couples a community of faith, love, support and accountability.
Read it all here.