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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 8, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 6
Marriage equality for Valentine's Day?
Section One
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Marriage equality for Valentine's Day?

Illinois lawmakers plan a Feb. 14 vote on same-sex marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said on February 5 that he would bring his state's marriage equality bill to the Senate floor for a vote on Valentine's Day, February 14.

Speaking with reporters just after the Senate Executive Committee passed SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act, by a 9-5 vote, Cullerton said he is confident he has the 30 votes needed to pass the measure and send it on to the state House of Representatives.

Although the Illinois House is said to be more conservative than the Senate, Cullerton said that the marriage equality bill is 'getting more support in the public every day.'

Democratic lawmakers, who control both houses of the Illinois legislature, have made equality one of the cornerstones of their legislative agenda, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill when it comes to his desk.

REPUBLICAN SUPPORT
According to a Chicago Sun-Times column by blogger Rich Miller, even Republican legislators want to see the bill passed as quickly as possible. It has been endorsed by Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.

Brady went public with his support for marriage equality last month in a joint statement with former George W. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, who came out as Gay in 2010.

Republican candidates performed poorly in the November election, especially in Illinois, and party leaders are trying to revamp their image. Knowing that Democrats have the votes to pass a marriage bill regardless of what they do or say, Republicans have an incentive to go along with equality rather than oppose it and reinforce their image as backward anti-Gay bigots.

LGBT rights activists were optimistic that the legislation will pass quickly.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, told the Windy City Times that Cullerton's statement indicated the bill will pass.

'I believe that the Senate president would not have announced a timeline on the bill if he did not think it had the votes to pass,' he said.

Said Rick Garcia, director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project and senior policy advisor for the Civil Rights Agenda, 'We are all very excited to see this bill move forward.'

'VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT'
'We are looking forward to a full vote in the Senate and we expect it to pass,' Garcia added. 'It should be a very welcome Valentine's Day gift for the thousands of couples and families that are anxiously awaiting the passage of this bill. The momentum continues to build in Illinois.'

Lambda Legal also released a statement predicting the measure will pass.

'The day when loving, committed same-sex couples in Illinois can marry feels imminent, and Lambda Legal is energized by this vote,' said Lambda's Midwest regional director, Jim Bennett.

'Our state is ready to become the 10th state where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and we urge people across the state to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill when it comes to a vote as early as next week. It's just time.'

Marriage equality supporters had hoped to pass SB10 in the legislature's lame-duck session in January, but could not assemble the votes to do so because three senators were absent. President Obama, who was himself an Illinois state senator, has endorsed the measure.

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