News (USA)

Illinois Latino leaders advocate in support of same-sex marriage

CHICAGO — A group of prominent Latino leaders said legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois would strengthen families and is “the right thing to do.”

In an open letter to lawmakers Sunday, 23 Latino leaders urged lawmakers to approve the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, proclaiming, “no member of anyone’s family, whether they’re gay or straight, should face discrimination when they hope to marry the person they love.”

Notable supporters signing the letter include former City Clerk of Chicago Miguel Del Valle, Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum Sylvia Puente, and Jesse H. Ruiz, Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education.

“As Latinos, we know our families are stronger when we stay together. We never turn our backs on family,” the leaders stated. “That includes supporting the freedom to marry for our gay and lesbian sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles.”

The backing from Latino leaders comes at a time of strong support for marriage equality in Illinois: a Crain’s/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows Illinoisans supporting marriage equality, with 50 percent in favor and only 29 percent opposed. Of the 50 percent in support, 37 percent “strongly” support the freedom to marry, according to the poll.

The Illinois Senate approved a bill earlier this month that would end the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. A House committee is expected to consider it Tuesday.

If it passes the House Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation, making Illinois the 10th state where same-sex couples may marry.

Opponents say the proposal endangers religious freedom and diminishes the sanctity of marriage.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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