Letter from the Illinois Psychological Association
Request for Action
The Illinois Psychological Association (IPA) stood shoulder to shoulder with a broad range of religious organizations, healthcare institutions, corporations, and professional organizations in calling for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This support led to Senate Bill 3186, The Illinois Antidiscrimination Bill, being signed into law on January 21, 2005. Effectively, this ends discrimination for employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public services and accommodations. It also provides protection from harassment in employment and higher education, and against retaliation for filing a discrimination charge. The IPA Council of Representatives recognized that support for this bill was a matter of promoting the mental health of Illinois citizens who were suffering from the negative impact of societal discrimination. The IPA was the only mental health organization to endorse the bill and provided important leadership resulting in the bill’s passage.
Now, House Bill 1826, The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, is pending. This Act helps establish basic fairness by extending state-level legal protections and responsibilities of marriage to all committed couples in Illinois. Under the Act, civil unions would be open to all adult couples (including opposite-sex, same-sex and senior couples) and afford these couples the state-level protections and responsibilities essential to all families. The legislation also preserves the separation of church and state and ensures that religious denominations are not forced to recognize or sanctify relationships they oppose. Some of the basic rights that many people take for granted who are married that are safeguarded by this bill include emergency medical decision making, the right to make funeral arrangements and control disposition of remains, the right to share a nursing home or hospital room and hospital visitation rights, State spousal benefits, and domestic violence protections. These rights are part and parcel of promoting the psychological well-being of Illinois citizens and therefore call upon the IPA to lead Illinois mental health organizations in support of this HB1826.
IPA’s support of HB1826 would also align its actions with APA Policy. In particular, The APA Policy Statement on Sexual Orientation and Marriage (Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives in 2004) resolved that it is “unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges…and APA encourages psychologists to act to eliminate all discrimination against same-sex couples in their practice, research, education and training.”
We respectfully request that the Illinois Psychological Association Council of Representatives take the following actions: 1. Unequivocally support The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, 2. Provide education to the membership regarding the negative impact of preventing couples from accessing state-level protections and responsibilities afforded families, and 3. Extend the services of our lobbyist in support of HB1826.
We wish to thank and laud the IPA Council for its past support. We look forward to a favorable reply.