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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 4, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 1
Freedom to Marry Bill To Be Swiftly Introduced on First Day of New Illinois General Assembly
Section One
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Freedom to Marry Bill To Be Swiftly Introduced on First Day of New Illinois General Assembly

Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) file Senate and House bills, ask constituents to contact their legislators in support

SPRINGFIELD - January 9, 2013 - Today, the legislative sponsors of the Illinois marriage equality bill plan to file Senate and House bills that would grant all Illinois couples the freedom to marry. On the first day of the new legislative session, sponsors Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) say they will work to pass the legislation, known as the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, shortly after members of the 98th General Assembly are sworn in.

'Last week, the Senate Executive Committee made history by approving same-sex marriage and gave our efforts incredible momentum,' Senator 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 Representative Harris. 'The bills we filed today will treat all couples equally under the law. We are going full steam ahead on this.'

Illinois Unites for Marriage -- a coalition led by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois -- is continuing its statewide campaign in support of the bill, marshaling support and urging allies to step up contacts with their legislators.

The organizations leading Illinois Unites applauded the prompt introduction of the bills by Harris and Steans on the first day of the new session and on the heels of the successful Senate committee vote last week.

The coalition supporting the right of all loving, committed couples to marry -- already strong with business, labor and community leaders, civic organizations, faith institutions and members of the clergy, African-American and Hispanic leaders, Republicans and Democrats -- continues to grow. Together, the coalition represents all walks of life and all areas of Illinois.

'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. Same-sex couples and their children cannot wait any longer,' the Illinois Unites coalition stated.

Coalition members also noted that marriage equality legislation has been endorsed by nearly every major newspaper in Illinois, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, the Peoria Journal Star, the Springfield Journal-Register and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Steans and Harris noted that support for marriage equality is building across Illinois, as it is in the country. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans believe gays and lesbians should have the freedom to marry, and polling shows a majority of Illinoisans likewise support it.

The recent supportive editorial from the Springfield Journal-Register stated, 'gay marriage is the civil rights issue of the generation.' The Peoria Journal-Star wrote earlier this week in its supportive editorial that, 'Marriage is a good thing. It comes with obligations to partner and family that are good for society and provide stability. ... Marriage equality is coming.'

The bill also shares the support of Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, who said last week that, 'giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value -- that the law should treat all citizens equally.'

Both bills include language identical to the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which the Senate Executive Committee passed last week. Information about the bills is available at www.illinoisunites.org, along with information about how citizens can make their voices heard.

For additional information, contact Eric Herman at 312.445.4824 or 773.405.8124.

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