Illinois Flirts with Marriage Equality Legislation
By Brittny Drye
In the hopes of riding the momentum that has garnered post-election for same-sex marriage, Rep. Gregory Harris, D-Chicago, is flirting with the idea to push marriage equality into the Illinois Legislature as early as next week.
Beth and Deborah married in Deborah’s hometown of Riverwoods, Ill., in Jul 2012.
The state currently practices civil unions, which was put into effect in 2010 by a narrow margin, thanks to Harris’s efforts. However, attempts in Illinois do not have a high success rate, as same-sex marriage rights in 2007 and 2009 both failed to pass. Harris is hoping to lean on the outcome of Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota votes to encourage his colleagues to support the bill. “I’ll be talking with (fellow legislators) about the result of the election in those four other states,” Harris said. “There’s been a dramatic shift” in public attitudes.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, who opposed the civil union law two years ago, is pushing a constitutional amendment this year that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The amendment would head to the voting booths in a statewide vote in order to be put into effect. Haine says even same-sex marriage proponents should view that as a chance for final public input on the long-argued question. “We could have a great debate among our citizens” and settle it once and for all, said Haine.
A September poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale found 40 percent of Illinoisans now support legalizing same-sex marriage—a 10-point jump in just two years, but still a minority view.
Should the right side win, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, a vocal supporter of the 2010 bill, is ready to sign marriage equality into law. “Gov. Quinn is in favor of marriage equality,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “He thinks it’s only a matter of time.”
Photo: Real Wedding Deborah and Beth, photography by Erin Leppo Photography
Brittny Drye is the senior editor at Equally Wed, the nation’s premier online magazine for gay and lesbian weddings. Follow her on Twitter @BrittnyDrye.
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