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Pundit: Gays Deserve Equality With Inmates

Pundit: Gays Deserve Equality With Inmates

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If prison inmates can get married, same-sex couples should be able to as well, says Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.

In a blog post published Thursday, Zorn, a longtime supporter of gay rights, reports that an Illinois man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 1998 was released from prison this week and headed for Hawaii to join the woman he married while serving his sentence. In 1987, Zorn notes, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld prisoners' right to marry.

With the Illinois legislature considering a bill to establish marriage-like civil unions for gay couples, Zorn writes, "The petty reason some cite in opposition to such unions -- they cannot naturally produce offspring! -- is piddling compared with the limitations of the prison-based unions that we've recognized as a beneficial and 'fundamental right' for 23 years."

The legislature is likely to vote on the bill next week, and "approving it will be the fair and smart thing to do," Zorn says.

In a follow-up post Friday, Zorn disagrees with Web commenters who say gays should not accept civil unions instead of marriage equality. "Creating civil unions will likely hasten rather than forestall the day when Illinois recognizes gay marriage and is therefore a good intermediate step," he writes. Read more here and here.

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