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Illinois Catholics at Odds Over Same-Sex Marriage Bill

As Illinois lawmakers prepare to possibly vote on a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage, Catholic groups in the midwestern state are in disagreement over the new bill.

Bishop James Alan Wilkowski of the Evangelical Catholic Diocese of the Northwest, an independent Catholic church with Lutheran theology, issued a letter on Wednesday, Jan. 2 contesting recent comments made by Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who urged Catholics to speak out against same-sex marriage.

In the letter, Wilkowski said that arguments of the Catholic church that oppose same-sex marriage "lack the foundation for the statewide conversation we are currently in."

"We believe that the institution of marriage will be strengthened for ALL married couples through the inclusion of gender-common couples," Bishop Wilkowski wrote, as reported by NBC Chicago.

Wilkowski's Wednesday letter was written in response to a Jan. 1 letter issued by Cardinal Francis George, who urged priests throughout the state to contact their state legislators and voice their opposition to same-sex marriage.

"Civil laws that establish 'same sex marriage' create a legal fiction," George wrote in the letter, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"The State has no power to create something that nature itself tells us is impossible," George added.

The possible legalization of same-sex marriage has recently been a major topic in Illinois, as state Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) are preparing to introduce the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the state's upcoming lame duck legislative session.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the bill did not receive enough support on Wednesday to earn a first hearing, but Sen. Steans has vowed that the bill will receive enough support Thursday to be pushed through the full Senate.

Should this new bill receive enough votes to pass both Senate and House, Illinois will become the first midwest state to approve same-sex marriage by legislative vote, as well as the tenth state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.

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