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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 2
No retreat, no surrender - Illinois lawmakers reintroduce marriage equality bill
Section One
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No retreat, no surrender - Illinois lawmakers reintroduce marriage equality bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Bouncing back from their failure to pass marriage equality in the lame-duck session of Illinois' legislature, the measure's sponsors reintroduced it on the first day of the new session, January 9.

'Last week, the Senate Executive Committee made history by approving same-sex marriage and gave our efforts incredible momentum,' Sen. Heather Steans said. 'With the full support of Senate President John Cullerton, I am confident legislators will grant all Illinois couples the freedom to marry this year.'

'We are one step closer to equality in the Land of Lincoln,' added Rep. Greg Harris. 'The bills we filed today will treat all couples equally under the law. We are going full steam ahead on this.'

WIDE SUPPORT FOR EQUALITY
In a January 8 press conference, Illinois Unites for Marriage - a coalition of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Lambda Legal, and Equality Illinois - said the bill has widespread support.

'No House or Senate member can deny the breadth of support and widespread belief that treating all Illinois couples fairly and equally is the right and responsible thing to do in Illinois,' the coalition said in a statement. 'Same-sex couples and their children cannot wait any longer.'

Sponsors Steans and Harris have vowed to push the bill to a vote as early as possible, and LGBT leaders have stated that movement on the bill could come by early February.

THIS IS THE YEAR
Harris has predicted that marriage equality will become law in 2013.

'I think we will do it,' he told Windy City Times. 'We just need to redouble our efforts.'

The measure almost passed at the end of the previous legislative session, but the absence of three Democratic senators meant equality supporters lacked the votes necessary to bring the bill to the floor. Instead, it was sent to the Senate's Executive Committee, where it passed on January 3 by an 8-5 party-line vote.

President Obama, who was once an Illinois state senator himself, endorsed the bill, as did Illinois Republican chair Pat Brady. Brady reportedly worked the phones nonstop in the closing hours of the legislature's lame-duck session, urging Republican lawmakers to support the bill, but without success.

While no Republicans have announced support for marriage equality, Democrats hold large majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, and barring unforeseen complications they should be able to pass it.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.

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