Illinois Family Institute: If Gays Aren’t Jumping at Civil Unions, Why Bother with Gay Marriage?

The Illinois Family Institute’s David E. Smith and Andrew Willis have used their incredible wisdom and logic to poke a hole in the idea that gay and lesbian couples in Illinois really want to get married.

Here’s how their argument goes: According to the census, very few gay and lesbian couples in Illinois got “civil unionized” in 2012. Therefore, why would they fight so hard for marriage equality?!

In Illinois, only 0.45 percent of the homosexual population received a civil union in the first full year of availability, and only a fraction of a percent (0.0166 percent) of Illinois’ population got “civil unionized” in 2012. This is the response to all the enthusiasm and celebration that surrounded the passage of Illinois’ civil unions law?

The response to civil unions has been lackluster at best, and one should not expect these percentages to rise dramatically. The law came into effect June of 2011, so one would expect that homosexuals who had been committed to a partner would have formed a civil union by now, but the vast majority have not.

Why the sudden political urgency for a same-sex “marriage” law in Illinois — when there seems to be so very little interest in forming civil unions? And there is absolutely zero evidence that same-sex “marriage” would be more popular in the long run than civil unions has proven to be in Illinois.

The short answers are these: Separate but equal is not equal. And for many gay and lesbian couples, they’re not settling for a watered-down version of marriage. They want to be treated the same as straight couples in the eyes of the government and that’s not going to happen until full marriage equality is achieved.

But back to the numbers. I’m trying to make sense of IFI’s statistics, but when they distort them this badly, it’s hard.

Like this idea that only 2,140 gay couples obtained civil unions in 2012. Since civil unions became legal midway through 2011, shouldn’t we count those couples, too? The Chicago Phoenix reported that the number of couples in civil unions was closer to 5,000 a year after it became legal in the state, midway through 2012. You would think, too, that couples who were most interested in getting a civil union got them as soon as they could in 2011 — they didn’t wait until 2012, the only year that IFI seems to care about.

IFI also claims that only 0.45% of gay people got civil unions in 2012. As far as I can tell, they obtained that number by dividing the number of gay couples who got civil unions in 2012 (2140) by the number of gay people in Illinois (466,460) which equals 0.00459 or 0.45% (poorly rounded). But that makes no sense. Why divide by all the gay people in Illinois, including teenagers and single people? They should be dividing the number of gay couples in civil unions by all the gay couples that could theoretically get them.

In any case, IFI claims what gay rights supporters really want is not equality, but power. Power and the destruction of society:

The ultimate goal is the eradication of conservative moral beliefs and the creation of a social and legal climate that promotes homosexuality as normal behavior. Redefining marriage in order to accommodate the unjustifiable demands of a tiny but politically powerful group will ultimately prove too costly.

There’s paranoid bigotry at its finest.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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