Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a measure aimed at providing further protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
The legislation bars employers from firing, segregating against or refusing to hire pregnant women. Sponsoring Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, has said the measure would relieve the issue of some women having to choose between having a child or taking a job.
The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations based on a woman’s needs, but a boss could ask for a doctor’s note. Women also could seek limited physical duties, such as avoiding heavy lifting.
“This legislation is especially important for low-income workers, who typically have the most physically demanding jobs and are least likely to have access to maternity leave and sick time,” said Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, in a statement issued by Quinn’s office. “Women can’t afford to lose their jobs, along with their income, seniority, and their employer-provided health insurance, or put their pregnancies at risk, due to the denial of a reasonable accommodation.”
Quinn signed the measure as he faces Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in the Nov. 4 election. The bill was not controversial in the General Assembly, passing the Senate 57-0 and the House 115-0. The law takes effect Jan. 1. You can read the bill here.
h/t: Chicago Tribune
#ILGov: Tea Partier Sam McCann considering independent or third-party run for governor
The conservative blog Illinois Review is reporting that Republican State Senator Sam McCann of Carlinville, who is considered to be an ultra-conservative Republican, especially on social issues, is considering a run for governor as either an independent candidate or as a member of a minor political party:
Although no official statement has come from State Senator Sam McCann, rumors persist that the Carlinville Republican is seriously considering a third-party run for governor of Illinois.
While still possible to get on the ballot, McCann would need to gather at least 25,000 petition signatures by June 23rd – the last day independents or new party candidates can turn in petitions to the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE).
On top of that, anyone that circulated petitions for primary gubernatorial candidates of either party cannot circulate for an independent party candidate.
HB 5707, a bill aimed at curbing school bullying in the state, is now waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.
The legislation, sponsored by lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, passed the Senate May 29 with 37 votes in favor after being amended, and proceeded to pass the house with 75 votes in favor of concurrence.
"Bullying in our schools has dramatic impacts on the victims and disrupts the educational process as a whole" Cassidy said in a statement. "The effects are devastating and well documented: victims have reduced academic achievement, lower involvement and are often forced out of school. Our schools must be safe and welcoming for all students, and this bill is a significant step towards that goal."
The bill lays out a clear bullying policy for schools as well as responsive measures. It also directs that schools compile and report data on bullying incidents.
"What I hear from [families of bullied children] so often, when they speak with schools or police, is that they are often told, ‘You are the first ones this has happened to’—that opens the door to blaming the victim," Cassidy told Windy City Times shortly after the bill passed out of committee in March. "With this, you can go back and verify that something else happened on a particular date."
An anti-bullying measure failed in the Senate in 2012 by just one vote. Cassidy has said the new measure is stronger and includes some facets that had to be deleted before.
"A comprehensive approach is needed to solve this issue," Cassidy said in the May 29 statement. "By giving school districts the tools to combat bullying, with an emphasis on restorative practices and accountability through data, we can help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children and schools."
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois lawmakers have revived a so-called “cupcake bill” introduced after a young girl’s home baking operation was shut down.
The Senate on Tuesday initially defeated the proposal, which paves the way for home kitchen businesses making less than $1,000 per month.
Republican Sen. Jim Oberweis was among opponents. The dairy magnate said proposed regulations tacked on to the bill would have sidetracked his own entrepreneurial spirit at a young age.
But the Senate later moved to reconsider the bill and that amendment was withdrawn. Lawmakers then voted 57-0 to pass the measure. Sen. Heather Steans says: “Let them eat cupcakes.”
The legislation arose after the Madison County Health Department shut down 12-year-old Chloe Stirling’s cupcake business in Troy. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn.
BREAKING: Cupcake Bill HB5354 has failed in the Illinois Senate.
By a 17-32-6 vote, Senate rejects retooled cupcake bill arising from a downstate case where public health dept shut down kid’s cupcake biz.— Dave McKinney (@davemckinney123) May 27, 2014
Illinois Senate Adjourns Leaving Fair Tax Act Untouched, Kills Term Limit Amendment | Progress Illinois
The Illinois Senate has adjourned for the day, leaving the Fair Tax Act untouched. Meanwhile, the GOP-backed amendment to impose term limits on state lawmakers died in the chamber Tuesday.
Despite a large rally by Illinoisans calling for a chance to vote on the Fair Tax Act and attempts by sponsor State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) to drum up support in the House, the amendment was not called up for a vote in the Senate. The amendment, which would have installed a progressive income tax in the state, had to pass through the Senate today in order to even potentially meet the deadline to make it onto the November ballot.
“I want to make sure there is a path to victory in the House before advancing it out of the Senate,” Harmon said, according to the State Journal-Register. “There are Republicans who can, should and will vote for this amendment if given the opportunity. I have no doubt we will need a bipartisan roll call in the House, but I am confident we can achieve that.”
“There’s no point in calling it in the Senate for some sort of symbolic vote,” he added.
Advocates for a progressive tax in the state are voicing displeasure with today’s outcome, as seen in this statement by A Better Illinois campaign director Kristen Crowell:
While we are certainly disappointed with today’s results, the fight for a Fair Tax – which enjoys the support of 77% of Illinois voters – is far from over. Our statewide grassroots campaign, including more than 250,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 750 small businesses, faith leaders, labor and education groups, and civic and community organizations from every corner of the state brought us closer to implementing a Fair Tax in Illinois than ever before.
We are confident the days of forced poor choices between unfair, regressive taxation that disproportionately burdens the poor and middle class and continued draconian cuts to the vital investments Illinoisans expect and depend upon are numbered. The Fair Tax will continue to be an issue in the upcoming elections and in front of lawmakers again as soon as this year’s Veto Session.
Today is a sad day for democracy. This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public. Our research and our conversations with both voters and lawmakers make us supremely confident that Illinois citizens will ultimately end this unfair, antiquated tax system as the truth about a Fair Tax continues to become evident.
Meanwhile, conservatives are “celebrating” the lack of a vote on the progressive tax amendment, as seen in this press release by Americans for Prosperity:
In a second victory for working families and businesses in as many months, the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a progressive income tax is dead after Democratic leaders failed to muster enough support to call the legislation for a vote. AFP-Illinois led the grassroots charge against the tax by airing three cable TV and online ads, generating over 1,800 constituent calls to priority legislators’ offices, and mobilizing its activists throughout the state at fifteen town hall meetings and other grassroots events.
This stealth income tax increase was championed by Governor Quinn and Springfield’s Democratic leaders as yet another way to squeeze more cash out of Illinois taxpayers. With the backing of more than 60,000 Illinois grassroots activists, Americans for Prosperity-Illinois joined with legislators and partner organizations in an effort to show legislators the deep opposition to the proposed progressive income tax.
'AFP-Illinois gave voice to thousands of Illinois residents who deeply distrust the leadership in Springfield and know that changing our state’s constitution to allow for a progressive tax would open the door to continued tax increases in the future,' said AFP-Illinois State Director David From.
Governor Quinn and Speaker Madigan’s next goal is to make permanent the state’s temporary tax increase, a whopping 67 percent tax increase passed in 2011 that is the largest tax increase in Illinois history. Three years later Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, with billions of unpaid bills, a seriously underfunded pension liability, and the third highest unemployment rate in the country. After defeat of ‘millionaire tax’ and the progressive income tax, AFP-Illinois shifts full attention to blocking a permanent income tax hike.
'Just three years ago Illinois taxpayers were promised that the income tax increase was temporary, and now Governor Quinn has made making this temporary hike permanent the cornerstone of his fiscal policy,' continued From. 'The defeat of the millionaire tax and the progressive income tax shows that Illinois voters are fed up with the false promises of our politicians; AFP-Illinois and our thousands of Illinois supports can now shift our full attention to defeating Governor Quinn’s permanent income tax increase.'
The Republican-led push to impose term limits on state lawmakers, an idea that is supported by both GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner as well as Gov. Pat Quinn, failed to pass through a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. But the issue could still get on the November ballot if Rauner’s petiton effort to limit state lawmakers to eight years in office and adjust the number of legislators in the general assembly garners enough support. He is expected to turn in the petition signatures on Wednesday.
Another potential amendment to hit November ballots looks to restructure the way Illinois political maps are drawn. Signatures for that effort are expected to be turned in Thursday. Both Rauner’s effort and the amendment to restructure state political maps are expected to see a court challenge.
Two other amendments will definitely appear on the ballot, however. One amendment looks to prevent voter suppression, while the other will strengthen the victims’ rights amendment.
Bad news out of Springfield: The A Better Illinois-backed Illinois Fair Tax Act is NOT headed to the ballot in November.
Also, the issue of term limits for state legislators and resizing the House [118 to 123] and Senate [59 to 41] (supported by BOTH Rauner and incumbent Gov. Quinn) being on the ballot is a no-go (for now).
Legislators total in Illinois (BOTH House and Senate) 177 currently, 164 if proposal somehow passes.
How bills in Illinois will pass (Simple Majority/60% Supermajority/66%/75% Thresholds) under the current and new proposals to resize the House and Senate:
Illinois TL/Resizing Proposal Bill Passages: House: 60/71/78/89 [New: 62/74/82/93] Senate: 30/36/39/45 [New: 21/25/28/31] #Twill— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem) April 30, 2014
SPRINGFIELD — A bill that was inspired by the shut-down of a Madison County girl’s cupcake-baking operation won unanimous approval Thursday in the Illinois House.
House Bill 5354, which will allow “home kitchen operations” to continue baking and selling homemade goods with some restrictions, now goes to the Senate. It was sponsored in the House by Rep. Charlie Meier, an Okawville Republican who said trying to get the bill passed has taught him that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
Meier had to put some substitute ingredients in the bill in order to get it passed in the House. It originally would have prohibited local health departments from regulating the sale of home-baked goods by churches and other charitable organizations, or by hobby bakers such as sixth-grader Chloe Stirling of Troy.
Before calling the bill for a vote, Meier amended it to state that a health department can inspect such an operation “in the event of a complaint or a disease outbreak.” Another amendment states that such operations, based out of home kitchens, are allowed only “in a municipality, township or county where the local governing body has adopted an ordinance authorizing the direct sale of baked goods.”
Meier wouldn’t name names, but he said he was “encouraged” by House leadership to make the changes to the bill in order for it to get passed.
"It’s not where I started, it’s not what I wanted, but we’re better off than we were before. It’s a step in the right direction," Meier said. "We were at the point where we were going to get nothing or get part of it, so we took part of it."
Most every health department in the state had opposed the bill in its original form.
"Current law has a negative impact on home kitchen operators like Chloe, but once this bill becomes law, they should be able to continue selling baked items without having the fear of being shut down by the health department," Meier said.
The Madison County Health Department’s shut-down of Chloe’s cupcake-making enterprise spurred Meier to file the bill. Chloe wasn’t at the Capitol on Thursday, but Meier said she’s happy with the revised bill.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said the amended bill seems to be a good compromise that takes into account public safety and individual freedom. He said he would encourage the Madison County Board to adopt the type of ordinance that is required in the bill.
"I’m totally in favor of that. In fact, I’ll help write the ordinance," Gibbons said. "This looks pretty reasonable, pretty workable."
The bill states that in order to qualify as a “home kitchen operation,” monthly gross sales cannot exceed $1,000, the food cannot be potentially hazardous, and the operator must provide notice to the purchaser that the food was produced in a home kitchen.
Meier says many churches and other charitable organizations have dinners as fundraisers, where individual members of the organization each bring baked items. For example, he said, a church might sell chicken dinners, with each dinner including a slice of home-baked pie or cake. Meier said he’s OK with the church’s kitchen having to meet health regulations, but it’s going too far to impose health regulations on every home kitchen where a pie is baked.
Chloe’s cupcake operation was featured in the BND Magazine in January. Madison County health officials have said they shut Chloe down after receiving a complaint from an adult who was denied permission to sell products baked at home.
The House passed the bill 106-0.
It’s headed to the Senate for easy passage and hopefully Gov. Quinn signs it.
One Year Ago today in Illinois History: SB10 passes the State Senate en route to ensuring eventual passage by the House. #IL4M
Supporters of marriage equality say the Republican’s bill is “not going to go anywhere.”
Sen. Kyle McCarter speaking on the Illinois Senate floor Feb. 14, 2013.
A Republican state senator in Illinois introduced legislation Tuesday to repeal the state’s new marriage equality law, which takes effect this June.
But with a Senate and House controlled by Democrats — who just voted in favor of marriage equality in November — and a governor who pressed for equal marriage rights in the state, advocates say Sen. Kyle McCarter is simply playing to his base of conservative Republicans.
McCarter introduced Senate Bill 2637 to repeal the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which passed last fall, and amend the state’s marriage statute to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman.
"[McCarter] knows it’s not going to go anywhere," said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who was he chief sponsor of the marriage equality bill in the Senate. "He’s just doing this to show his constituents."
Last October, the Illinois House narrowly passed the marriage equality law, but the Senate approved the legislation with a wide margin — both last February in a 34-21 vote and again in November to concur with the House in a 32-21 vote.
"This is just politics," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT rights group. "It’s an election year in Illinois and whenever that happens there’s always legislators who introduce legislation that will really go nowhere, but appeals to their base and I think that’s exactly what he’s done here."
Martinez said he has been monitoring new measures introduced that would attempt to set back pro-LGBT legislation.
"We have seen in the past with the civil unions act and the gay rights amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act that there tends to be attacks on gains made by the LGBT community," he said. "We are checking to make sure that if these bills are introduced that they are addressed and that we fight against them."
Messages were left with McCarter’s district and Capitol office seeking comment.
More surprising is that even the far-right hate group IFI is silent (so far) on McCarter’s proposal to repeal SB10.
Chicago, IL — Many LGBT Illinoisans will likely remember 2013 mainly as the year marriage equality became a reality for our state. While we have to wait until June for marriage to officially wed, the marriage struggle this year gave our community numerous moments of joy, not to mention a few moments of disappointment. Here are some of ChicagoPride.com’s highlights from the past year.
January: The new year brought tremendous hope to supporters when, on Jan. 4, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. Supporters hope that the vote would take place quickly, but a number of mix-ups mean it has to wait. Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda tells ChicagoPride.com that the anticipated Senate vote simply fell victim to bad timing, adding, “This means we are one step closer.”
February: The Illinois State Senate grants a Valentine’s Day wish to gay and lesbian constituents seeking legal marriage recognition—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passes in the chamber by a vote of 34-21. Senate sponsor Heather Steans says of the legislation, “It’s time we in the General Assembly catch up to our neighbors. We can confidently and proudly vote for this bill today, because voters in the nation and our state understand and endorse this basic tenet of fairness and equality.” Twelve days later, the legislation passes the House Executive Committee in a narrow 6-5 vote.
March: Chief co-sponsor Greg Harris tells Chicago Sun-Times that, “When I call this for a vote, it will pass.” Throughout the Spring, marriage supporters and organizers line up high-profile help, among them Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as retired Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent. President Obama’s Organizing for Action project also notifies its supporters that it will be partnering with Illinois Unites for Marriage, which is a joint project by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois.
Residents of areas with legislators who are on the fence about SB10 report that they’re receiving robo-calls asking them to tell politicians to vote against the legislation.
April: On April 5, a coalition of about a dozen African American pastors speak in the Loop in favor of the legislation. On April 24, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan pens a supportive editorial in the Chicago Tribune. ”Legal arguments aside, this issue at its heart is about one of the most fundamental decisions we can make — with whom to share our lives,” Madigan says. ”In every community in Illinois, same-sex couples have chosen to join together and, in many instances, to raise families of their own. … They deserve the same rights and responsibilities that civil marriage offers straight couples.”
May: Other states achieving marriage equality, including Rhode Island and Minnesota, heighten the anticipation as legislators return to Springfield. Near the end of the month, advocates say that they have the needed number of votes for SB10 to pass the legislation.
"The votes are, indeed, there," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, tells ChicagoPride.com. ”And I believe the bill is going to pass, but we’ve received no indication yet on when the bill would be called.”
But on May 31, Harris announces that the vote will not come yet. Fighting back tears, he acknowledges that some colleagues did not have the support of their constituents and asked for more time.
"I have never been sadder to accept such a request," Harris said. He promises that the issue would be re-opened in the veto session in the fall, but adds, "In the meantime, I apologize to the families who were hoping to wake up full and equal citizens."
"I have to say, when you are assured with such certainty that the votes were there for a vote, and then to have one not even take place, was maddening," Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Director James Bennett tells ChicagoPride.com. ”[Politicians] should not be able to hide behind not having a vote.”
In a statement, Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer calls the failure “abject betrayal” and lays blame at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan. ”Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House–if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed.”
June: Nearly 100 people turn out in the rain for a protest organized by GLN and TCRA at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. Members of the coalition promise that the struggle will take a more active role in decision-making.
"The top donor to the Democratic party hired all of these contract lobbyist, straight white men, who don’t know shit," Rick Garcia tells the crowd of about 100 people.
Following a controversial editorial in Windy City Times, publisher Tracy Baim and Harris issue a joint statement: “We as a community can work together for the common cause of marriage equality, even if we have differences of opinion on strategy and tactics. We both have a respect for the role that each aspect of the community plays, including elected officials, activists, donors and the media. … We must unite fiercely as a community and focus our efforts on carrying the beacon of hope and equality for all families, and against those who wish to defeat the full promise of America for all her peoples.”
In mid-June, Illinois Unites for Marriage says that it is hiring a full-time campaign manager who would oversee and coordinate the statewide advocacy campaign and would gather additional input from supporters during nine community meetings held over the summer.
July: Illinois Unites hires John Kohlhepp, a union organizer with AFSCME, to be their campaign manager. Keron Blair of Midwest Academy is hired as field director, and Rev. Benjamin Reynolds is to be the coalition’s faith director. The coalition also announces a goal of raising $2 million.
August: Chicago-based Groupon becomes the latest corporation to come out in support of marriage equality in Illinois, with a YouTube video that announces, “We are Groupon and we are proud of being part of a diverse community of customers, merchants and employees. We work better when everyone, including our LGBT co-workers, can bring their whole selves to work every day. That is why we support marriage equality.”
Pat Brady, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, announces that he is joining the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to lobby for the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois. ”Liberty, freedom and equality under the law are all things that Republicans and conservatives have believed in for a long, long time,” Brady tells WBEZ radio.
September: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak visits Center on Halsted to unveil a new digital and print campaign designed to draw same-sex couples from Chicago to Minneapolis where they can get legally married. ”The people who built this neighborhood, who have done so much incredible work for this community, you deserve equal rights,” said Ryback. ”Come to Minnesota, a place that already recognizes that you should have those rights.” Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, additionally cites a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimating marriage equality could add $100 million to Illinois’ economy.
October: Thousands of marriage rights advocates and allies brave the cold rain to rally outside the Capitol as part of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, an event to mark the first day of the fall veto session.
"This is our hour, this is our moment," Gov. Quinn tells the record-breaking crowd. "We need love to sign a marriage equality law and I’ll sign it as quickly as possible." Other top state officials in the rally include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Chicago), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (D), Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R).
Throughout the afternoon, in what becomes a three-hour rally, the politicians and speakers share the stage with top LGBT musicians, including Steve Grand, Sami Grisafe and Stephen Leonard.
Equality opponents rallied the following day in Springfield.
November: As equality supporters settle in for a three-day stretch of the veto session—many not expecting a vote until the last possible minute—Harris and colleagues surprise most with a vote that’s one of the first items on the House agenda. They approve the bill on Nov. 5 by a vote of 61-54-2.
"At the end of the day, this bill is about love. It’s about family. It’s about commitment," Harris tells colleagues on the floor.
Among those speaking on the legislation’s behalf is House Speaker Madigan, who sat next to former state Rep. (and current alderman) Deb Mell during the debate.
"Who am I to judge that they should be illegal? Who is the government to judge that they should be illegal, and for me, that’s the reason to support this bill," Madigan says.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) was one of three Republicans in the House to vote for in favor of the bill. The others were Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein).
"It should be a proud moment for everyone in our state, but it should be an especially proud moment for thousands of lesbian and gay families across our state, who now know they are on a very short path to achieving equality and all the protections that our law allows," Harris says during a press conference following the vote.
On Nov. 20, with the stroke of Gov. Pat Quinn’s pen, Illinois becomes the 16th state in the country to allow full marriage equality. SB10 is signed in front of numerous elected officials, advocates and members of the public at the UIC Forum in Chicago.
"Love never fails and I’m going to sign this bill now," says Quinn, who signs the bill—with multiple pens—on the desk Abraham Lincoln used to write his 1861 inaugural address.
"There is no straight or gay marriage. From now on there is only marriage in Illinois," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
For some Illinois couples, the passage is initially a bittersweet victory however. The official start date of gay marriages, thanks to rules applying to the veto session, is June 1. For couples with partners facing serious illnesses, there is no assurance that seven months would afford enough time. But a judge rules that activist Vernita Gray, who is seriously ill, and her partner Patricia Ewert can wed early. The day before Thanksgiving, they become the first same-sex couple to be legally married within Illinois.
December: A federal judge rules that two more couples with terminally ill partners can marry before the June 1 start-date. Additionally, the judge rules that the Cook County Clerk’s Office can set up a streamlined process for couples facing similar circumstances. The ruling initially only applies to Cook County, where issuance of a marriage license is dependent on the completion of a physician’s certification form that can be downloaded on the marriage equality page of the clerk’s website.
"We thank the Court and the clerk’s office for their swift response to ensure that Illinois couples who are struggling with the challenges of a life-threatening illness will have a chance to be married," says Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal.
In a procedural move Wednesday, state Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) filed an amendment to accelerate the effective date of Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.
Sen. Harmon’s amendment is to House Bill 2747, which deals with the Freedom of Information Act. HB2747 would be up for a vote in January, during the new session of the legislature. If the amendment was approved, the bill was passed and then signed into law, the new effective date for SB10 would be 30 days after HB2747 passed, rather than the current effective date of June 1st, 2014.
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
Huffington Post: Obama ‘So Proud’ Of Illinois Lawmakers After Marriage Equality Vote
AMEN, Barack Obama!
Source: The Huffington Post
BREAKING: Illinois is now OFFICIALLY the 15th state to pass marriage equality with a 32-21-0-6 vote in the State Senate. Now off to Governor Quinn’s desk. #IL4M #MarriageEquality #Illinois
SO happy that we’re OFFICIALLY the 15th state to pass marriage equality.
BREAKING: The Illinois House has passed marriage equality 61-54-2-1. Off to the Senate now. #IL4M #MarriageEquality #ILCantWait #Illinois
— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)
SPRINGFIELD — A key House lawmaker seeking to legalize same-sex marriage remained cagey Monday about voting on his legislation this week, but all signals pointed toward that — with perhaps the biggest sign of all being House Speaker Michael Madigan’s heightened involvement in the push.
State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), the lead House sponsor of the measure to permit gay and lesbian couples to wed in Illinois, gave his social media followers a strong hint that a long-delayed House vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act may be imminent.
“Heading to Springfield to get it done,” Harris posted in a status update Monday morning on his Facebook account, as state lawmakers prepared to convene Tuesday for the final, scheduled, three-day leg of their fall session.
Harris also dropped another hint over the weekend that the tally was at a critical phase, telling his Facebook followers that he was “counting votes and twisting arms.”
In an earlier interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Harris said his bid to persuade House members to pass his legislation was “moving in the right direction” and, in yet another sign of a possible roll call this week, said “the time is now to make sure people are treated with equality in Illinois.”
A concrete precursor to a vote this week likely would be a move by Harris to tweak the bill so it would take effect next year instead of possibly later this year. Doing so would lower the number of votes he would need in the House to pass it from 71 to 60 but would require backing from the Senate, which should not be a problem. As of late Monday, Harris had not filed an amendment containing such a change.
But unlike in the spring, when Harris didn’t have the votes to pass the same-sex marriage bill, Madigan (D-Chicago) has been actively working over members to persuade them to pass the legislation.
“I had a brief conversation with [Madigan]. He was asking about the bill because he is trying to pass it,” said Rep. Thaddeus Jones (D-Calumet City), a member of the House Legislative Black Caucus who’s among more than a dozen House members still undecided on the bill.
State Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago), another undecided House member, said he, too, had a conversation about Harris’ bill with Madigan. “I’m still meeting with people, talking to my constituents, and I’m not going to make my mind up till I get on the floor and listen to the debate,” D’Amico said.
Harris has been unwilling to divulge how close to 60 votes he is, but gay activist Rick Garcia, who also is helping to pass the measure, said, “We’re closer to 60 than we were even three weeks ago.”
Garcia said there is “a very good chance” Harris will seek a vote on the bill this week and that Madigan’s involvement amounts to a “very significant” development in trying to pass the legislation.
“We’re within striking distance. The speaker isn’t going to make calls if we have 52 or 53 votes, right?” said Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda. “The speaker will make calls if we’re at 57 votes, you know? He’s not going to bring 10, but he can persuade a couple, and I think that’s what we’re going to rely on.”
Madigan is not alone in trying to line up votes for Harris’ bill. Gov. Pat Quinn has done so, as has Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Sarah Hamilton, the mayor’s communications director, told the Sun-Times that Emanuel has been “very active and engaged, making calls, meeting with members and leaders” in anticipation of what he hopes will be a historic vote.
A top mayoral aide described the head count as “very, very close.” Another pegged it as “58, very close to 59” in favor of gay marriage.
Opponents of the legislation think they still hold the advantage. But they acknowledged Madigan’s involvement, in particular, represents the single-most ominous development against their effort to keep the measure from getting to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has vowed to sign it.
“I think they’re short now, but that can change in a heartbeat,” said David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, who led a Statehouse rally two weeks ago against Harris’ legislation.
“We’ve seen it time and time again. With Mike Madigan involved, who knows what can happen. I’ve seen him work bills before and get the handful they need, and it’s possible they have it. I don’t know. My count right now is they don’t, but Madigan can flip a few,” Smith said.
h/t: Chicago Sun-Times