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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 25 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 43
Thousands march for marriage in Illinois - Cancellation of 'veto session' leaves equality bill in limbo toward common goals
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Thousands march for marriage in Illinois - Cancellation of 'veto session' leaves equality bill in limbo toward common goals

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Busloads of marriage equality supporters filled the grounds of the Illinois state capitol on October 22, two days before the legislature was to convene its so-called 'veto session.' Police estimated the crowd at 3,000.

The legislature subsequently decided to cancel the planned October 24 session. A veto session is intended to allow legislators to override the governor's vetoes, but other bills may also be brought up during the session. It was originally scheduled for October 24-27 and November 5-7.

Sponsors of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which would allow Gay and Lesbian couples to marry in Illinois, had promised they would reintroduce the bill during the veto session. It had previously passed the state Senate 32 to 24, but it was never brought to the floor in the House, where leaders said there were not enough votes to pass it.

'THIS IS OUR TIME'
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn strongly supports marriage equality, although he is a practicing Roman Catholic.

'I believe everyone of faith should listen to their conscience, and I have in my case,' Quinn said. 'The time for marriage equality has come. This is our time. This is our moment.'

The Chicago Tribune also called on the legislature to pass the bill.

'Lawmakers, don't wait for the courts,' the newspaper said in an editorial.

'The legislative branch, rather than the judicial, should be writing the fine points of this law. Make a firm declaration that same-sex marriage is in the best interest of the state and its residents because the law would strengthen families, protect the interests of children, and affirm personal freedom.'

However, the measure's sponsors still lack the votes to pass it in the House, and prime sponsor Rep. Greg Harris has not yet indicated whether he will bring the bill forward for a vote.

Some of the pro-equality demonstrators shouted, 'Call the vote!' while Harris spoke to the crowd. Others said they were prepared to vote out legislators who got in the way - including Harris himself.

Harris, an openly Gay lawmaker, said he was not concerned about potential backlash at the polls, because he is fighting for more than his personal political future.

'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.

NO VOTE SCHEDULED
Harris says he will not divulge how many lawmakers are prepared to vote for his marriage bill or to discuss the possible timing of a vote. But he said his colleagues 'should realize that they are going to have a chance to be a part of history.'

Illinois Unites for Marriage spokesperson Ed Yohnka also declined to offer a specific vote tally.

'Everybody has a different number and I've heard lots of different speculation about different vote counts,' Yohnka said on October 21. 'But I think we're on a path where this is going to happen.'

According to the Tribune, legislators who would likely vote for the bill are reluctant to do so before January 2014, when filing closes for the legislative primary in March.

Rick Garcia, policy director of The Civil Rights Agenda, threatened that 'there's going to be Hell to pay' if the marriage bill does not pass.

PUBLIC BACKS EQUALITY
A recent poll commissioned by Equality Illinois found that 52% of likely Illinois voters say they would support a law legalizing same-sex marriage, while 40% would oppose it.

An anti-equality protest on October 23, organized by the Catholic bishop of Springfield, Thomas John Paprocki, drew a mere 300 people.

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