40 / 33
      44 / 31
      40 / 30

      Church issues statement as Ill. gay marriage debate heats up

      The debate on same sex marriage in Illinois could come to a vote this legislative session.

      An Illinois representative from Chicago filed a bill last week that would legalize same sex marriage.

      Democrat Greg Harris told KHQA he expects lawmakers to decide the issue very soon.

      The Springfield diocese of the Catholic church has come out strongly against the legislation.

      Brooke Hasch spoke to a local member of the church and a representative of the gay rights community.

      "Finding a group like Unity was important for me, to know there were other people on campus who I could relate to and were a part of this community was very important to me," Kelsey Jones, a Western Illinois University senior said.

      Jones is the president of WIU's Unity group. It supports all members of the gay rights community and wants the state of Illinois to legalize gay marriage ... but Jones says it was a surprise to read a letter from the Diocese of Springfield sent out at the beginning of the year.

      In the letter, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki wrote the proposed legislation is a "grave assault upon both religious liberty and marriage." Click here to read the letter.

      Father Michael Kuse from Blessed Sacrament in Quincy says he welcomes a discussion on the issue among people of all faiths.

      "We respect the dignity of every person, and we respect those who have a relationship with someone of the same sex. What we are not able to do is to take that into the realm of what we call the sacrament of marriage," Kuse said.

      Gay rights activists say it's not about religion as much as it's about equality.

      "For people to say, call it a civil union, call it what you will but don't call it marriage, that's offensive to us, and me personally. I mean, I'm in love with this person and I should have the same rights as everyone else does," Jones said.

      "It's not condemning someone. I can see if someone had a relationship, via two men or two women, that they might be offended by this. That, doesn't the church want us? And that's not the issue here. The church does want them and wants to journey with them. What we're saying is as a sacrament of marriage, it is defined for us, to be a man and a woman," Kuse said.

      "As far as the religious aspect goes, I grew up in a Christian home, raised Christian and I was always told that you love people no matter what. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it," Jones said.

      You can follow the Harris legislation proposing to legalize gay marriage here .

      How do you view this issue? Post your thoughts below or join us on our Facebook page here .