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Illinois Same-Sex Marriage Legislation Backed By 'Modern Family' Star

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 2, 2013 9:30PM

Same-sex marriage legislation could be passed by the Illinois General Assembly before the current lame duck session ends Jan. 9. We already know Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Francis George is working to rally Catholics to call their state representatives to oppose the legislation if it’s called to a vote in Springfield. Supporters of same-sex marriage in the Land of Lincoln, meanwhile, received a boost in their efforts to make it law Wednesday from Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Ferguson, who plays the tightly wound Mitchell Pritchett on the hit ABC series, met the media in Chicago with Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon Wednesday to advocate for passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans and state Rep. Greg Harris. Steans and Harris are expected to introduce the legislation this week and said they won’t put it up to a vote until they’re certain they have the necessary votes for passage. Cardinal George issued a pastoral letter Tuesday Catholics oppose the legislation, calling same-sex marriage a “legal fiction” in the hopes he isn’t caught flat-footed like he was when civil unions were legalized in Illinois in 2010. George is also part of an interfaith coalition calling on legislators to vote against the legislation.

Ferguson, who was accompanied by his fiancĂ© Justin Mikita at the presser, said Modern Family’s popularity has helped relax the views of some on the subject of marriage equality.

“I think it’s a bit like a Trojan horse. A lot of people who were not comfortable with marriage equality … turn on the television and see a show that has a lot of different families in it — and one of those families just happens to be gay. They’re realizing they have a great time watching the show, then they’re watching a gay couple that’s having a lot of the same problems and issues they have. They realize ‘Oh they’re not so different from me.’ And at that point, we’re in their living rooms,” he said.

Simon addressed George’s contention of same-sex marriage being a “legal fiction,” saying adoption—which she supports—is a similar “legal fiction” albeit one that helps residents form families.

“Families are not a constant thing and the law of how we build our families has changed greatly over time. … There are a lot of ways we put together families that don’t involve reproduction,” Simon said.

Ferguson, Simon and other supporters of same-sex marriage will travel to Springfield Thursday for “Bow Tie Lobby Day,” an event encouraging legislators to wear bow ties in support of the bill. The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act could have a roll call on the Illinois House floor Thursday. If it passes in both the House and Senate, Gov. Pat Quinn has already said he would sign it into law.

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