Geof Stone Tribune Op-Ed on Gay Marriage Lawsuits

Marriage on the rocks?
Geoffrey R. Stone
Chicago Tribune
May 31, 2012

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed separate lawsuits Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of the Illinois law that denies gay men and women the right to marry. There is little doubt among constitutional experts that the challenged law is unconstitutional. The central question is whether our Illinois judges will have the courage to say so.

More than most Americans today realize, throughout much of our history gay men and women have been branded as criminals, sexual psychopaths and perverts. They have been imprisoned, beaten, sterilized, ostracized, castrated, psychoanalyzed and publicly humiliated. They have been compelled to hide an essential facet of their nature, to deny who they are, and to pretend to be what they are not. They have been shadowed by fear, fired from jobs, shunned by family members and friends, and forced to live lives of shame. The history of our nation's treatment of gay men and women is a national tragedy.

Over the past 40 years, however, we have made remarkable progress. As gays and lesbians have tentatively but courageously revealed themselves to friends and family, the views of most Americans have gradually changed. Most Americans have come to realize that gay men and women are not creepy degenerates, but people "just like us." We have discovered, often to our surprise, that they are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends. With that knowledge has come greater tolerance and understanding. For most Americans, it has been an extraordinary journey of enlightened thinking and moral progress.

Geoffrey R. Stone