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Illinois lawmakers send marriage equality bill to governor

A historic vote Tuesday in the Illinois House positioned that state to become the largest in the heartland to legalize gay marriage, following months of arduous lobbying efforts by both sides in President Barack Obama’s home state.

Under the measure, which the state House approved 61-54 before sending it on to the Senate for technical changes, gay weddings could be held in Illinois starting in June. 

The bill has been sent to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has pledged to sign it but did not immediately indicate when.

Fourteen states plus Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Most recently,New Jersey,Minnesota and Rhode Island have legalized it.

Read more

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Tracy Baim from the Windy City Times has excellent points on our state’s marriage equality issue.


There is a lot of buzz about the timing of the push for a vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, otherwise known as the marriage equality bill in Illinois.

The question is, who controls the strategy? Is there any way to know for sure what the “community” wants? No, not really. Getting consensus in our community is worse than herding feral cats. But based on the push for a vote in May, and the increasing pressure for a vote from leaders and activists all summer—and now into the fall veto session of the state legislature—there appears to be a critical mass of Illinois citizens who want a vote sooner, not later.

Some people say don’t push the vote until we know for sure it will pass. On an emotional social justice issue, sometimes people will not commit until they are forced to choose which side of history they want to be on. So until the vote, we may not know who is for us, against us, or who will simply never commit either way.

That’s why this issue is so complicated. You can’t know the true vote until the vote is called. Thus, our elected officials can’t make any promises on the bill passing later. They can claim that they have the votes in January—even though they do not know where they truly stand this fall. A vote in the hand is worth far more than what any two politicians can promise us in the bush.

Yes, a January vote could mean faster implementation of state marriage rights for same-sex couples ( unless they had enough votes this fall to move up the start date ). But what happens if they keep the delay going, until everyone is “safe” from a political challenge? With the Illinois primary season so many months ahead of the general election, that means representatives are basically always running for re-election. The “safety” zone is small—and there are very few examples of successful challenges to elected officials who back LGBT and marriage equality. Actually, it’s the other way around—legislators have lost because of their anti-LGBT votes.

It also means the community will continue to spend money and time on an issue that should have been resolved earlier this year. We have a lot of issues that need attention, and marriage really should be settled by now. Illinois became a majority Democratic state in part because of the party’s claims to be pro-LGBT; well, the Democrats are losing major credibility on a variety of fronts, including on this issue.

While there is a slight chance that passage in January could be guaranteed, there are far more upsides to voting on marriage equality this fall. Here are a few reasons why we should vote, and why we are operating from a position of strength in doing so:

— Knowing who is a firm “yes” will help focus efforts on lobbying for the next round.

— Because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminating one section of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government has started to approve federal benefits LGBTs have been seeking for decades. That means Illinois couples can go to other states to get married now and at least get federal benefits ( and some state ones ).

There is a strong legal case working through the Illinois courts seeking marriage equality in Illinois.

— Many corporations are starting to fall in line with federal marriage equality.

Realistically, with the filing deadline for candidates just a short time after the final day of the scheduled fall veto session, there are few truly at-risk incumbent politicians, and certainly most Democrats are not really at risk on this vote. Their party leadership should be able to give “cover” to those at risk, if there really are any. And those that voted yes will have strong backing from LGBTs and allies.

If ever there was a time to press hardest for a vote, it is now. We have all the power, we have the momentum, and we have fallbacks to get people covered while we wait for Illinois legislators to catch up to history.

I also propose a strategy if the vote does not happen this fall:

— We start a bus brigade of couples going to Iowa and Minnesota for marriage to happen weekly in those states until Illinois gets marriage equality.

— If opposition candidates in a few key districts can’t be organized by the filing deadline, a few write-in candidates should be backed for 2014—the general election is not until November, which leaves time to mount targeted campaigns against anti-LGBT or neutral incumbents.

A lot of people have called me naive ( and worse ) when it comes to pushing for a vote in May—and now. But I am not alone in wanting to know where people stand. They do not need more time to decide if they have courage. You either have it or you don’t. If your career is more important than your integrity, or than doing what is right, than maybe you are in the wrong profession. In the 1980s Chicago City Council, the community pressed multiple times for a vote on the gay-rights law, and each time more politicians joined the side of justice. But we had to start with a vote to know where to press for change.

I leave our politicians with these quotes on courage: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy,” Dale Carnegie.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear," Nelson Mandela

Let me be clear: There is a lot more to lose here if they delay a vote than if they lose a vote. There is far more courage in fighting for what is right and losing than staying on the sidelines. If we lose, we will fight another day ( and encourage people to get married in other states in the meantime ). And if a similar bill returns next spring, and passes after a lot more work, it would start the same time as if it were to have passed this fall with a simple majority. But we do not want that.

What do we want? A vote. When do we want it? This fall.

h/t: Tracy Baim at Windy City Times

Are you ready for this fall in Illinois? It’s not just about football, the leaves, pumpkins, or hockey, but about a very serious issue called getting marriage equality (whole milk marriage or freedom to marry) legalized this fall. 

Currently, Illinois is a civil unions state (skim milk marriage).

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) is the group primarily fighting marriage equality in Illinois, and Thursday it joined other anti-gay groups in championing the “critically important” narrative of Robert Oscar Lopez. Lopez, who blames his lesbian moms for his lack of social skills and leads an ex-gay life, believes that same-sex parenting is “child abuse,” and any attempt by same-sex couples to have a child is a “crime against humanity.”

In a post celebrating Lopez’s anti-adoption “child abuse” rhetoric, IFI’s Laurie Higgins encourages Christians to overcome their fears and engage in “stone-casting” against the “tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force” that is LGBT equality:

Lopez describes what all conservative activists already know: The homosexual community and its ideological allies have become a tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force that compels conformity and compounds the suffering of children intentionally denied mothers or fathers. […]

And still most Christians — and shockingly their leaders — say relatively little. Ever anxious that the non-believing world in its relentless misuse of Scripture will excoriate them for judging (rightly), speck-looking, or stone-casting, Christians opt instead to become complicit in child abuse.

Studies of same-sex parenting have generally found no differences among the children in such families, including any claims of “suffering.” Higgins and the other groups that have shone a spotlight on Lopez magnify stigma against same-sex families, creating the very harm they claim to be protecting the children from.

Even if the marriage equality bill fails when it comes back before the state House this fall, same-sex adoption will still be legal in Illinois. It’s estimated that nearly 4,000 same-sex couples are already raising their own children in the state. IFI offers no solution for these children, but will campaign against their parents as “child abusers” and try to prevent them from enjoying the same legal rights as other families. 

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT


S Club 7 - Hope For The Future. 

Perfect song to remain optimistic on future marriage equality battles in Illinois and elsewhere.

LGBT activists, advocates and community members have begun filtering into the capitol as a the deciding vote on Illinois marriage equality is expected as early as this afternoon.

Sponsors have until Friday to pass the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Chief sponsor Greg Harris has said he will “absolutely” call for a vote on the bill by session’s end May 31. He has also stated that the bill will pass.

Multiple sources connected with organizing efforts around the bill have stated that a vote is expected this afternoon, evening or early in the day on Friday. That timeline will partially depend on other business in Springfield as spring session wraps up.

Advocates with Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, The Civil Rights Agenda, Human Rights Campaign, Gay Liberation Network and other groups are already in the capitol. Sources say that the families of some reps. are also headed for Springfield.

Anti-LGBT groups not appear to be present.

The bill has already passed the Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign it.

The bill has the backing from major political players including President Obama, who expressed support for the measure in Chicago this week.

"Here in Illinois, we’ve got a vote on same-sex marriage that’s going to be coming up in the Legislature," he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "I just want to say for the record it’s something that I deeply support."

Windy City Times will continue to update with details from Springfield.

H/T: Windy City Times

Hoping and praying that my home state of Illinois becomes the 13th state to pass same-sex marriage. #IL4M #Illinois #MarriageEquality #LGBTQ

With a 34-21 vote in the state Senate on Valentine’s Day, Illinois seemed on the verge of becoming the 10th state to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. Delaware beat us to it. Next was Rhode Island. Then Minnesota.

State Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, needs 60 votes by week’s end to add Illinois to the list. The nose count is still close. Let’s get it done.

Public support for same-sex marriage is barreling ahead, and it isn’t likely to change direction.

This month, a Gallup poll found 53 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 27 percent in 1996. Separate polls measured support at 55 percent in Arizona, 56 percent in Virginia and 57 percent in Michigan.

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved such measures in the November election. It’s time for Illinois to join them.

Since 2010, Illinois has allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, which grant them the same spousal rights, under state law, as married heterosexuals. Allowing civil unions allowed the state to sidestep religious concerns, at least for a time. Many faiths have moral objections to same-sex partnerships, and the word “marriage” can have deeply religious connotations.

But partners in civil unions are ineligible for hundreds of federal benefits, legal protections and tax advantages enjoyed by married couples. That’s unfair. Many gay couples belong to churches that have no problem blessing their union. And many simply want their relationship sanctioned under the law.

If the measure before the House is approved, state laws will apply equally to marriages between “two persons,” instead of between “a man and a woman.” That remains troubling to many. Out of respect for those beliefs, the bill explicitly states that ministers and churches wouldn’t be required to solemnize gay marriages, in the same way that some churches decline to marry mixed-faith couples or divorced people.

It also contains wording to assure that churches won’t be penalized for refusing to allow same-sex ceremonies in their halls or sanctuaries, in violation of their faith.

The bill would offer same-sex couples a government validation, not a religious blessing.

At the same time, it would affirm the bedrock values of traditional marriage. It would reward committed relationships, promote stable families and safeguard the interests of children with same-sex parents. And it would keep government out of the intimate affairs of its citizens.

We won’t pretend this is an easy vote for everyone. But its time has come.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who is eager to sign the bill into law, wants reluctant lawmakers to imagine how a “no” vote will look to future generations. “Years from now, some of your relatives will say, ‘Gee, what happened to you back then?’” he said in a recent meeting with the Tribune editorial board. He urged them to “cast a vote for history.”

That history is being written every day. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maryland, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota …

Illinois, your chapter is next.

h/t: Chicago Tribune

Hey Jack, it’s time for Illinois to pass marriage equality! Uncle Si says so.

This has the real and unbiased facts about IL SB10.

This has the real and unbiased facts about IL SB10.

With just seven days to go, all signs are pointing to a potential victory for supporters of marriage equality legislation in Illinois.

In a procedural action, leaders in the Illinois House on Friday extended the deadline for consideration of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage by one week, or the the scheduled end of session May 31.

With the May 24 deadline for bills sent over from the Illinois Senate, the extension allows the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to remain on the legislative calendar in the House so that lawmakers in the chamber can still take the measure up for consideration — its final hurdle before it can signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Since the Senate approved the bill on Valentine’s Day, observers have seen little action in the House other than a close Feb. 26 committee vote. The bill has languished with inaction for over three months while sponsoring lawmakers like Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and other advocates pushing the bill secured the 60-vote simple majority needed for victory.

But just this week as adjournment approaches, marriage equality advocates said they are confident the bill will pass in the final days of session and Harris issued a strong message to supporters Friday: “We will win.”

“There’s exactly one week left in the legislative session,” Harris said in the message. “And let me make one thing clear: in the next seven days, we can — and we will — secure the freedom to marry.”

However, Harris won’t say exactly when he plans to call the bill up for vote or how many votes he has secured, but now, with the extension for consideration, activists such as Randy Hannig, Jr. of Equality Illinois predict Harris will call the vote any day now.

“We expect final action to occur next week,” Hannig, Jr. said in an email, courtesy of Equality Illinois.

On Wednesday, advocates anticipating the procedural extension, assured anxious members of the community marriage equality will become the law of the land before time runs out.

“We are confident that it will pass by next Friday,” said Jim Bennett, the Midwest regional director at Lambda Legal.

If the House approves the bill, Illinois would become the 13th state to legalize the full recognition of gay and lesbian nuptials, just weeks after three other states — Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota — approved similar marriage equality bills.

Gov. Quinn, a strong proponent of the marriage bill, is expected to sign it into law immediately after a House victory, starting the 30-day countdown until gay and lesbian couples will be eligible for marriage licenses.

Follow Chicago Phoenix for breaking updates on the bill.

H/T: Chicago Phoenix

Illinois, the time is near for the 13th state to pass it!



With the end of the Illinois’ spring legislation session just days away, LGBT leaders say that equal marriage legislation has the support needed to pass by month’s end.

Sponsors have until May 31 to pass the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” which would allow all couples, regardless of their gender, to marry. Failing that deadline, the bill’s passage would be delayed for months.

LGBT groups pushing for the bill say they are ready to see it come up for a vote.

"I have absolutely no doubt we’re going to be done with this by May 31," said Jim Bennett, Midwest regional director for Lambda Legal. "I believe that this bill is going to pass."

Bennett declined to give a specific vote count, but said that he expected the bill could be called and passed any day.

Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, said he thinks the bill has the 60 votes needed for passage in the House.

"I believe we’re there," said Garcia. "The cake is baked. We’re waiting for the icing."

The bill passed the Senate on Valentine’s Day. House sponsors have since struggled to pull together enough votes to pass it in the House.

Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition of groups working for the bill, has scheduled a community meeting to update supporters on the bill’s progress and share plans surrounding the vote Wednesday evening.

The bill has the backing of major political players in Illinois, including Gov. Pat Quinn, who told Windy City Times that he has met personally with more than a dozen representatives in an attempt to get the bill passed. Quinn has said he will sign the measure into law.

Chief Sponsor Greg Harris has vowed not to call for a vote until the votes are there to pass it.

Steve Brown, a spokesperson for Speaker Mike Madigan, confirmed that Madigan has also met with wavering lawmakers in recent days in an effort to secure the final votes.

"There were conversations with people last week, hoping to persuade some people," Brown said.

But when the vote comes is in the sponsors’ hands, Brown said.

"That would all be up to Greg Harris," he said. Brown said he could not give a specific vote count.

Harris could not be reached to comment before press time.

If the bill does not pass by month’s end, sponsors will need to wait until at least until fall to push the legislation. That option, however, is not seen favorably. Representatives hold office for just two years, and campaigns are expected to heat up as the year goes on, making controversial legislation like equal marriage harder to pass with time.

Complicating that option, Garcia pointed out, will be anti-gay efforts to stop the bill. Delays in its passage will give anti-gay organizations and churches time to mobilize opposition. Illinois Family Institute, a staunchly anti-gay group, has already held several rallies throughout the Chicago area against the bill.

The Illinois Unites for Marriage community meeting will be held Wednesday, May 22nd at 5:30 p.m. at the Urban League, first floor conference room, 4510 S. Michigan Ave. That meeting will be cancelled if a vote is expected that day. See for up-to-the-minute information.

h/t: Windy City Times

It is well past time to make Illinois the Baker’s Dozen state (excluding DC) to legalize marriage equality!

Which brings us to Illinois. Land of Lincoln and recalcitrant House legislators.

May 8, 2013 (SPRINGFIELD, Ill.) (WLS) — The bill to allow same-sex couples to marry needs 60 votes to the pass the Illinois House. Its sponsor says his roll call of supporters has reached the high 50s.

"We’re now very close and when it comes on the board it will pass," said Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

The Illinois Senate has already passed the legislation. All it will take is for a few more House legislators to enter the 21st century. They’ve now watched as the entire Rhode Island Senate Republican delegation voted in favor of same-sex marriage; they’ve watched Delaware move swiftly and get it done; and soon they will have watched Minnesota vote in a bipartisan manner to pass their marriage equality legislation. Yet Illinois, which many thought would be the first of possibly four states to legalize same-sex marriage, is still teetering on the brink of failure.

When the entire weight of the political structure in Illinois (the President, his former Chief of Staff and now Mayor of Chicago, the Governor, the state’s Attorney General, and both US Senators - one R, one D) are in favor of this legislation we can only stop and wonder: Is something rotten in Denmark (no, they have same-sex marriage) Illinois (beyond the famous dead of Chicago who rise to vote every election day)?

Get with it, Illinois.

H/T: jpmassar at Daily Kos