Politics

Illinois gay marriage bill support slows weeks before end of session

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

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 measure to redefine marriage in Illinois to mean between two people as opposed to a man and woman passed the Senate by a comfortable margin on Valentine's Day.

Supporters predicted a similar result in the house where democrats also hold a super-majority.

But after many African-American churches and Chicago's Catholic Archdiocese led by Cardinal Francis George stepped up their anti-gay marriage campaigns, house members representing predominantly black districts have publicly denounced the bill.

"My constituents have let me know in no uncertain terms that they object to that legislation," said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago).

Representative Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) said he leaned toward voting for the bill last winter.

"But seeing as the Cardinal and different reverends coming out in opposition, I'm looking closer at it and taking a more neutral stance," said Rita.

There also is opposition among more conservative downstate democrats and Mundelein's Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) is one of only two house republicans supporting the bill:

"It's about allowing people of same sex relationships the same rights that I have with my wife," said Sullivan.

Harris remained confident he'll have at least 60 votes by the end of session on May 31.

"This is the land of Abraham Lincoln. We have always supported equality, we've always supported fairness. Now is the time to be on the right side of history," said Harris.

So nearing mid-May, the Marriage Equality bill is still unfinished business. And with only about three weeks left in session, the legislative clock is ticking.

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