By: Tom Cicero
You have just found the person of your dreams. Things go really well for the two of you, and your relationship deepens. You begin to plan for your future. You talk about taking your relationship to the next step. They say yes, and the two of you decide to get married. You tell your parents, your friends, anyone who’ll listen. You then begin to pack for the trip. Where are you going, though? Well, you have to take a long, long drive across a least one state line, if not more. Why? Because you are a same-sex couple, and you are not allowed to get married in your state.
For some people, this situation is more than hypothetical.
For President of RU Proud Matthew Smith, this situation is very real.
Smith, along with members of RU Proud and support from faculty and fellow students, intends to do something about it.
Smith and company will make their way to Springfield, Ill. on Oct. 22 to march for marriage equality.
“Basically, that’s the first day of the fall session,” Smith said. “We were so close at the end of last session waiting for the marriage equality bill to be called to a vote. This is for us to make a presence and to try to encourage the senators to call this to a vote.”
The upcoming November legislative session will be the second chance for this bill to go into effect. With the outcome still up in the air, Smith and others living in Illinois think the march will give some great momentum going into the November session.
“Basically, the thing is to try to get the senate bill passed,” Smith said. “It has already been approved by the Illinois Senate, and the governor has said he’d sign it, so we’re just waiting for the House.”
Should the bill pass, same-sex couples will be able to get married under Illinois law and will also be able to file joint tax returns at the federal level.
“What happened earlier this year in the Supreme Court, when the marriage equality bill passed, they only extended the benefits to people who lived in states that recognize same-sex marriage,” Smith said. “This will allow couples in Illinois to get the same benefits.”
If passed, Illinois would be 13th state to allow same-sex marriage. Currently, Illinois recognizes same-sex couples married in other states who live in Illinois, but does not allow Illinois residents to get married in Illinois.
“You might have seen on the news that Michigan was encouraging people to come to Michigan to get married in their state,” Smith said. “It’s a revenue for them. If I live in Illinois, why should I have to go across the state lines to get married?”
The upcoming march will give Roosevelt students the chance to fight for equal rights.
“I encourage everybody to go to this march,” Smith said. “One thing I’m big into is stepping outside of the comfort zone. Somebody who has been straight all their life may not realize what it means for somebody like me to fight to get married because they know they can get married, so it doesn’t matter. But I can’t.”
He added that he’s met great people and has had great experiences by stepping out of his comfort zone and encouraged others to do the same.
“It’s getting better, but it’s important to me to fight for marriage equality. To encourage other people to talk about it and be a part of it can broaden people’s perspectives. You’re not going to be alone. You’re going to be marching with fellow Rooseveltians. The Roosevelt community is going to be there. You are going to be with people you know; you’re going to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”