CHICAGO (CBS) — As the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door for California to resume same-sex marriages, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) called on the state legislature to “get its act together” and approve gay marriage in Illinois.
Tunney spoke up at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, a short time after the high court declared DOMA unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex couples who are legally married to get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples – such as Social Security survivor benefits, joint tax returns, and breaks on estate taxes.
The court also allowed California to resume same-sex marriages, after ruling defenders of the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage did not have standing to appeal lower court rulings that found the ban unconstitutional.
As the Chicago City Council’s first openly gay alderman, Tunney could not say enough about what the court’s decision means to the gay and lesbian community.
“Gays and lesbians will have the rights and responsibilities of every individual in America,” Tunney said. “Today is just a watershed day, and it’s great that I have the opportunity to speak to my colleagues, and to the city of Chicago. This is what we’re fighting for. This is why I’m sitting in the seat.”
But Tunney said this watershed moment is over, and it’s time for the Illinois House to “get its act together” and approve same-sex marriage legislation, so Illinois can join 13 other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing same-sex couples to wed. The Illinois Senate already has passed the measure, and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he’ll sign it if the House follows suit.
Tunney said issues like this are why he first ran for public office.
“This is why we work so hard to represent our communities, because gays and lesbians are part of the city of Chicago. We are everywhere, and we are normal human beings, and we deserve equal rights, and respect, and dignity,” he said.
Fellow aldermen gave Tunney a standing ovation for his heartfelt speech.