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When Will Marriage Equality Come to Ill.? Activists Not Sure

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Oct 23, 2013
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Rep. Greg Harris
Rep. Greg Harris  (Source:AP Photo)

About 3,000 people in Illinois showed up for a political rally at the state’s Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to pass a measure that would grant same-sex couples marriage rights. But as the Chicago Tribune reports, there is a great divide among politicians who support the bill.

Rep. Greg Harris, the openly gay Democrat who introduced the gay marriage bill to Illinois legislature, is finding himself at a crossroads. The newspaper writes some supporters want him to "call the bill even if the support isn’t there, arguing that lawmakers should be held accountable while also making it clear who should be targeted as potential backers." The other group of supporters, however, says politics should not be ignored because if the measure is voted down, gay rights efforts could be taking a step back and "send a bad message."

The Tribune adds there’s "little indication the Illinois House is any closer to approving a gay marriage bill than it was before a summer of lobbying efforts. Lawmakers are waiting to see whether they face difficult re-election efforts, and religious groups opposed to the bill plan their own rally Wednesday."

Harris spoke at the rally on Tuesday and acknowledged the divide on gay marriage in Illinois but is more concerned about getting the measure passed rather than political backlash.

"People can have their opinions on tactics and strategies all they want, but at the end of the day the issue here is about moving Illinois into the column of states that treats all of its families with equal dignity, strengthens our communities and puts us on the road promised by our forefathers to form a more perfect union," he said, according to the Tribune.

Harris did not, however, reveal how many lawmakers plan to approve the bill but said they "should realize that they are going to have a chance to be a part of history."

The Tribune reports it is unclear as to when lawmakers will vote on marriage equality, however.

"Lawmakers will start filing re-election paperwork at the end of November, so casting a vote for gay marriage now would leave a month or so for challengers opposed to it to gather enough signatures to get on the March primary ballot," the newspaper writes. "That’s left some lawmakers suggesting that a vote should be delayed until after January, when they will know who they are running against. The lack of urgency looming over the General Assembly’s fall session was underscored when lawmakers canceled Thursday’s planned session."

Those against marriage equality in Illinois plan to hold a counter rally at the state Capitol in Springfield on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. The event is called the "Defend Marriage Lobby Day" and Monsignor Carl Kemme of the Springfield’s Roman Catholic Dioceses will be a speaker.

A marriage equality bill passed the state Senate on Valentines Day this year, but it has not been called in the House. AP notes that marriage equality activists believe they’re just a few votes short of getting the measure approved, though Gov. Pat Quinn said he would sign the bill into law.

On Wednesday, Quinn tweetedk, "In the Land of Lincoln, it’s time to be on the right side of history. Equal rights for all...." with an image of the pro-gay marriage rally.

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