Illinois House gay marriage vote historic in its normalcyContinue reading.
Choking back tears, Tunney urges Il. House to “get its act together” on gay marriage
Choking back tears, Chicago’s first openly-gay alderman urged the Il. House Wednesday to “get its act together” and pass gay marriage after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The City Council was debating a resolution recognizing the tenth anniversary of an annual AlDS Ride that has raised over $2 million for AIDS victims.
But, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) saw his opportunity and he took it.
“This resolution is so ironic—the day the Supreme Court struck down D.O.M.A….It did leave the right to states to do their own business. Well, you know what? This watershed moment is over. Gays and lesbians will have the rights, the responsibilities of every individual in America,” Tunney said.
“To be recognized as a full citizen with spousal rights that, if I decide to marry someone, they will get my pension? Hello? How long does this stuff take?..And you know what? It was only 5-to-4. Some day, these decisions are gonna be unanimous.”
Tunney then turned his attention to the Il. House, which adjourned without voting on the gay marriage bill approved by the Il. Senate on Valentine’s Day. State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) didn’t call the bill because he didn’t have the votes.
“Now, we will [have equal rights]–and very shortly–if this state legislature would get its act together—Democratically controlled–and get this off the table so [gay] people in Illinois will have the rights and responsibilities like everybody else,” he said.
“I thank each and every one of you and I thank our mayor for supporting LGBT people. And let’s not even call them a label. We’re all the same….Gays and lesbians are part of the city of Chicago. We are everywhere. We are normal human beings. We deserve equal rights and respect and dignity.”
Emanuel was not in the City Council chambers to hear Tunney’s rambling and emotional speech. But, if the mayor was listening on the monitor piped through the ante-rooms, he might have heard a political shot from Tunney along with the compliment.
“I wish the mayor was hear—and I know he’s listening—because, when he was [an aide to] President Clinton, they were the ones who put D.O.M.A. in. Let us not forget that times have changed. Public sentiment has changed. We have a mayor now and a President [who] recognizes equality for all LGBT people,” the alderman said.
Tunney then turned to the tenth annual AIDS ride and the long battle to overcome the stigma tied to the disease.
“When [colleagues say] it’s a ride uphill–imagine the people living with HIV [and] what kind of roller-coaster these people are going through,” he said.
The reason these organizations started is because government wasn’t here. They were not responding because they [thought], if they touched someone, they might get AIDS. That’s how ridiculous this world was in `82. And that’s one of the reasons why we have so many people living with HIV and why so many are dead: because of ignorance by the government.”
Tunney closed his remarks with an apology to his colleagues.
“I didn’t mean to get so crazy about this, but today is an important day for our city and our country,” he said before receiving a standing ovation.