A Republican state representative in Illinois defended his opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday by comparing same-sex unions to polygamy and statutory rape.
In an email to a constituent who inquired about his position on the issue, Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) wrote that re-defining marriage could ultimately lead to marriage between two or more people or even marriage between one man and a 9-year-old child.“If one male and one female is discriminatory, then isn’t limitation of marriage to just two people discriminatory, too?” he wrote. “There are men who would like to marry two or more consenting females. Would you define their relationship as marriage, too? Could a man marry a consenting 9-year old girl? Why not? To refuse them would be discrimination. Again, where would you draw the line?”
A ban on gay marriage is on the books in Illinois, but the state Senate and a House committee have recently approved a marriage equality bill. The measure awaits a vote by the full House this month and a signature by Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who supports same-sex marriage.
The constituent, Kathleen Betts, says she sent the initial email about a month ago in order to appeal to Morrison’s “sensibility for equal rights.”
“There’s so many Republicans and conservatives changing their positions, so I wondered if I could sway him,” she told TPM in a phone interview. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) bucked most of his party earlier this month when he endorsed gay marriage.
Morrison said Friday that he apologized to Betts, offering to meet with her on the matter.
“I found that the constituent was upset with my reply last night,” he told TPM in a phone interview. “I immediately replied with an apology and invitation to meet with me and a clarification that in no uncertain terms that her position equated to statutory rape.”
In that lengthy reply, which Morrison provided TPM and is produced in part below, he explained that even though Betts may not have been advocating for polygamy or statutory rape in her support for gay marriage, other groups in the state are.
The point I was trying to make was this: the state already has certain restrictions on what marriage is. The law itself makes distinctions on who can and cannot marry. For example, one cannot be married to more than one person at the same time. You are not advocating for polyamory (I don’t think), but there are those in Illinois who do. Just google Polyamory Chicago, and see for yourself. They argue that the state is discriminating against their sexual orientation, love, desire to commit, freedom, equality, etc. …
Changing a law like this is not a light matter. Same sex relationships have been around for millenia, obviously, but codifying marriage as a relationship without regard to gender is a shift of enormous proportions. Interracial marriages have been in existence for millenia, too. Though they were temporarily (in the scope of human history) outlawed in certain jurisdictions, the unions were still of man and woman. That’s why I don’t believe it’s appropriate to say SB10 is analogous with interracial marriage laws, by the way.
“Kathleen, I don’t seek to intentionally offend or be condescending to anyone, and if I was to you it was unintentional, and I genuinely apologize,” Morrison added.